Robots to moonwalk

July 23, 1999

Thirty years since the "small step for man" on to the moon, advanced computing technology is boosting the development of a new breed of planetary explorers, machines.

A team of computer scientists and electronics engineers at Dundee University, supported by the European Space Agency, are working on self-guided planetary landing craft. Computer vision and artificial intelligence techniques are being developed to guide the craft to a landing site, automatically avoiding any obstacles on the surface.

Computer scientist Steve Parkes said: "Using humans for scientific exploration in space is extremely expensive. Semi-independent robotic probes can be much more effective and do not need costly life-support systems. Nor do they have to be returned to earth at the end of the mission."

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