NASA to invite designs for AI lunar robot

NASA is planning to launch a challenge for the public and scientific community to design a self-assembling robot with artificial intelligence that can explore the surface of the Moon, William Harris, CEO of Space Centre Houston said on Tuesday.

Space Centre Houston in the U.S, the official visitor centre for NASA Johnson Space Centre, conducts regular public outreach programmes to engage people of various ages and diverse backgrounds in scientific research.

These programmes encourage students and scientists to ideate innovative solutions for problems that the U.S space agency is trying to overcome in order to carry out successful space exploration missions.

"The next challenge is for the Moon -- it will be announced next year -- to develop a self assembling robot or rover on the Moon's surface that has an artificial intelligence platform so it can make decisions based on what it is learning about the lunar surface," Harris told in an interview.

"The reality is, when we sent humans to the Moon back in the 1960s, just going there and coming back safely was a huge accomplishment. We did not do a huge amount of science during those missions," he said.

Most of the astronauts then were test pilots. The first and only scientist to have visited the Moon is Harrison Schmitt, an American geologist, who is now the last living crew member of Apollo 17, Harris said.

There was very little scope to perform scientific experiments, and to date there is a lot we do not know about the Moon, he said.

(with news agency inputs)