Jet Propulsion Laboratory
The Robotics Laboratory at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology has developed some of the most advanced robotic devices in use today, including the Mars Exploration Rover, which has perhaps sparked the public’s interest more than any other real-live robot. The JPL agenda includes a vast array of projects for such purposes as the exploration of distance planets and asteroids and military applications.
Currently en route to Mars as part of the Phoenix Mars mission, a robot arm designed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory is designed to dig trenches, scoop up soil and water-ice samples, and deliver them to testing instruments on the Mars Lander.
Additional projects include:
- development of simulators intended to duplicate entry, descent, and landing conditions for a Mars landing as well as high-fidelity Martian terrain models
- multisensor hazard assessment and safe-site assessment
- reusable robotic software
- autonomous robotic balloons for future Titan and Venus missions
For more information on JPL Robotics, please visit their Web site.
Sponsored by the Future and Emerging Technologies program of the European Community, the mission of ECAgents is to develop next-generation agents capable of independent interaction with the physical world and direct communication with other agents, including humans.
Although immediate application of these technologies will be in existing technologies, including cell phones, Wi-Fi devices, and robots, the ultimate goal is to develop far more advanced creations.
ECAgents envisions robotic devices that, through interaction with other devices and with humans, will be able to evolve and develop new and expanded capabilities. Potential applications include entertainment robots; service robots able to work in teams to locate, care for, and rescue people in devastated areas or to monitor dangerous environmental areas; and companion robots that could enhance and assist an individual’s own ability to perform crucial tasks.
Laboratory of Autonomous Robotics and Artificial Life
Situated in Rome, Italy, the Laboratory of Autonomous Robotics and Artificial Life is a division of the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies (CNR), which is carrying out research in artificial life, evolutionary robotics, and communications development. Research focuses on developing artificial organisms, with bodies controlled by an artificial neural network, that can interact with an external environment and can adapt and evolve as part of a larger population. This last point demonstrates the laboratory’s interest in the collective behavior of artificial life.