by Brooks Hays
Pasadena, Calif. (UPI) Dec 1, 2016
Scientists from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are working to improve submersible technologies by bolstering the artificial intelligence that helps underwater robots execute scientific missions.
Submersibles are now mostly preprogrammed. Without the ability to make decisions on the fly, their adaptability and scientific abilities are limited.
NASA scientists -- in cooperation with researchers from Caltech, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and Remote Sensing Solutions -- are developing deep learning software for submersibles. Researchers are currently testing early iterations of their intelligence using a fleet of underwater drones in the Monterey Bay.
As of now, the drones, which are programmed to seek out temperature and salinity shifts, use forecasts delivered via satellite to plot their routes. Their artificial intelligence allows them to observe ocean changes in real time. Scientists aim to integrate the two types of information -- to marry real-time analysis with long-term planning.
Right now, engineers are never that far away from their submersibles. But NASA and other space agencies hope to one day use underwater drones to explore oceans on other planets and moons.
"In order to study unpredictable ocean phenomena, we need to develop submersibles that can navigate and make decisions on their own, and in real-time," researcher Steve Chien, head of the Artificial Intelligence Group at JPL, said in a news release. "Doing so would help us understand our own oceans -- and maybe those on other planets."
While visits to Europa may be far off, oceanographers and marine biologists are keen on the benefits intelligent submersibles can offer right now. Tracking the complex combination of ever-shifting factors that influence something as seemingly simple as bloom of plankton -- from nutrient density to ocean currents -- is nearly impossible without some semblance of artificial intelligence.
Better brains won't just help robots better track the complexities of food webs and "biocommunities," but also leave scientists more time to conduct science instead of managing a machine.
"Our goal is to remove the human effort from the day-to-day piloting of these robots and focus that time on analyzing the data collected," said Andrew Thompson, assistant professor of environmental science and engineering at Caltech. "We want to give these submersibles the freedom and ability to collect useful information without putting a hand in to correct them."
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|