Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists develop control system to allow spacecraft to think for themselves

Date:
February 15, 2011
Source:
University of Southampton
Summary:
The world's first control system that will allow engineers to program satellites and spacecraft to think for themselves has been developed.

The attached image shows Professor Veres with a satellite model at the University's unique test facility.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Southampton

The world's first control system that will allow engineers to programme satellites and spacecraft to think for themselves has been developed by scientists from the University of Southampton.

Professor Sandor Veres and his team of engineers have developed an artificially intelligent control system called 'sysbrain'.

Using natural language programming (NLP), the software agents can read special English language technical documents on control methods. This gives the vehicles advanced guidance, navigation and feedback capabilities to stop them crashing into other objects and the ability to adapt during missions, identify problems, carry out repairs and make their own decisions about how best to carry out a task.

Professor Veres, who is leading the EPSRC-funded project, says: "This is the world's first publishing system of technical knowledge for machines and opens the way for engineers to publish control instructions to machines directly. As well as spacecrafts and satellites, this innovative technology is transferable to other types of autonomous vehicles, such as autonomous underwater, ground and aerial vehicles."

To test the control systems that could be applied in a space environment, Professor Veres and his team constructed a unique test facility and a fleet of satellite models, which are controlled by the sysbrain cognitive agent control system.

The 'Autonomous Systems Testbed' consists of a glass covered precision level table, surrounded by a metal framework, which is used to mount overhead visual markers, observation cameras and isolation curtains to prevent any external light sources interfering with experimentation. Visual navigation is performed using onboard cameras to observe the overhead marker system located above the test area. This replicates how spacecraft would use points in the solar system to determine their orientation.

The perfectly-balanced model satellites, which rotate around a pivot point with mechanical properties similar to real satellites, are placed on the table and glide across it on roller bearings almost without friction to mimic the zero-gravity properties of space. Each model has eight propellers to control movement, a set of inertia sensors and additional cameras to be 'spatially aware' and to 'see' each other. The model's skeletal robot frame also allows various forms of hardware to be fitted and experimented with.

Professor Veres adds: "We have invented sysbrains to control intelligent machines. Sysbrain is a special breed of software agents with unique features such as natural language programming to create them, human-like reasoning, and most importantly they can read special English language documents in 'system English' or 'sEnglish'. Human authors of sEnglish documents can put them on the web as publications and sysbrain can read them to enhance their physical and problem solving skills. This allows engineers to write technical papers directly for sysbrain that control the machines."

Further information is available at http://www.sesnet.soton.ac.uk/people/smv/avs_lab/index.htm.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southampton. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Southampton. "Scientists develop control system to allow spacecraft to think for themselves." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110214083813.htm>.
University of Southampton. (2011, February 15). Scientists develop control system to allow spacecraft to think for themselves. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110214083813.htm
University of Southampton. "Scientists develop control system to allow spacecraft to think for themselves." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110214083813.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Captured by International Space Station

SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Captured by International Space Station

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 20, 2014) SpaceX's unmanned Dragon spacecraft makes a scheduled Easter Sunday rendezvous with the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Easter Morning Delivery for Space Station

Raw: Easter Morning Delivery for Space Station

AP (Apr. 20, 2014) Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The SpaceX company's cargo ship, Dragon, spent two days chasing the International Space Station following its launch from Cape Canaveral. (April 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Hoax? Cosmetics Company Wants To Brighten The Moon

A Hoax? Cosmetics Company Wants To Brighten The Moon

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) FOREO, a Swedish cosmetics company, says it wants to brighten the moon to lower electricity costs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station

Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) On it's second attempt this week, The Space X company launched Friday from Cape Canaveral to ferry supplies to the International Space Station. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins