MIT lets undersea robot make its own decisions

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a new system for underwater robots that can “think” for themselves.

The robots can make high-level decisions for achieving mission goals.

Scientists have tested the system on several autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) off the west coast of Australia. They passed with flying colours.

The robots can devise a plan for the mission, select locations for exploring and work within timeframes, Brian Williams, a professor of astronautics and aeronautics at MIT, who helped design the system, told Tech Times.

The robot can also make the decision to abort a task if an emergency arises.

“We wanted to show that these vehicles could plan their own missions, and execute, adapt, and re-plan them alone, without human support,” said Williams. “With this system, we were showing we could safely zigzag all the way around the reef, like an obstacle course.”

One part of the Enterprise system is called “captain,” which makes high-level decisions related to the entire mission. Another part of the system works like a navigator that plans out a route for achieving the mission goals. The Enterprise system also has a component that works like an engineer or a doctor, which repairs and diagnoses problems autonomously.

Bill Condie

Bill Condie

Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.

Read science facts, not fiction...

There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.