British scientists have finished testing a Martian robot that will decide where it will explore when it reaches the planet.
The rover, which uses artificial intelligence to determine where to go and how to get there, will travel up to one kilometer a day on the red planet.
The rover software, developed by researchers at King & # 39; s College London and the Airbus aerospace company, will also make decisions regarding the management of its resources. For example, he can close some functions to save energy.
It will also give the rover the opportunity to investigate things he finds interesting, but human operators may miss.
The technology marks a significant advance on the remote-controlled Martian robots currently used. These mobiles are slow and do not respond because it takes eight minutes to commands sent from Earth to reach them. This limits the distance traveled by robots, current mobiles moving only a few tens of meters per day.
The new autonomous systems were tested last month on a four-wheeled rover called Sherpa in the Sahara Desert.
The arid region of Morocco was chosen as a test site because it has a red and rocky relief very similar to the surface of Mars.
The robot has traveled more than 1.4 km without human interaction during the one – month trial.
Catherine Mealing-Jones, Director of Growth at the British Space Agency, said: "Mars is a very difficult planet to land safely, so it is essential to maximize the discoveries of each hit.
"A new autonomous robot technology like this will help unravel the mysteries of Mars and I'm delighted that the UK is a key player" Airbus at Stevenage, Herts, is the mastermind behind the new ExoMars rover of the European Space Agency (ESA), due to land on the planet in 2020.
Following a public competition held last year, the British Space Agency will unveil the name of the new rover built in the UK this spring.
ExoMars is part of a project to search for evidence of life on Mars. It is a joint mission of ESA and the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos.
The robot traveled 1.4 km without human interaction. Credit: UK SPACE AGENCY
The first part of the mission was to place a communications satellite in orbit over Mars, called the ExoMars Tracer Gas Orbiter. This was a success after a launch in 2016.
In addition to the planet in orbit, the satellite was to provide a probe called Schiaparelli. The probe crashed when landing on Mars the same year.
The British Space Agency is the second largest European contributor to Exo-Mars, after investing 260 million pounds in the mission and 14 million pounds on the instruments.
The new standalone technology, called ERGO, has also been developed with the help of Wiltshire-based software company SCISYS.
It has been tested in Morocco with software called INFUSE, which combines data from different sensors and sources on the mobile and creates useful information such as maps.