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Mars rover uses A.I. to decide what to zap with a laser

Sharon Gaudin | July 25, 2016
Robotic rover makes some of its own decisions on what to study on Mars

NASA noted that with Curiosity, the AEGIS software is used to analyze images normally taken at the end of each drive, using the rover’s navigation camera.

The software uses criteria, such as size, shape and brightness, uploaded by scientists to decide if it should use its laser and telescopic camera to investigate a rock or an area.

The A.I. system also directs the ChemCam instruments in their work. For instance, it pinpoints the laser at fine-scale targets.

"Due to their small size and other pointing challenges, hitting these targets accurately with the laser has often required the rover to stay in place while ground operators fine tune pointing parameters," Estlin said. "AEGIS enables these targets to be hit on the first try by automatically identifying them and calculating a pointing that will center a ChemCam measurement on the target."


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