Validating the ds1 remote agent experiment

These factors include: (a) the identification of mission targets further away from Earth, (b) an increase in communications “round-trip” time as the spacecraft moves further from Earth, (c) a corresponding decrease in power as the spacecraft moves further away from the sun, (d) smaller spacecraft sizes (limiting antenna size and gain levels possible), (e) the impact that b and c have on the level of communications possible and (f) the miniaturization of computers, making applications which require significant processing power possible in a suitably small form factor.

Basically, this amounts to a simple decision: one can perform less mission work (due to delays), receive less data-value (due to transmission capability limitations) and have a human teleoperate the craft or hand control over to autonomous control software (which would be needed in the first instance, to some extent, to handle emergency response to situations that cannot wait for a roundtrip communication to resolve—e.g., tipping, slipping, , they are generally high-budget and high-profile), it is understandable that human controllers are hesitant to release control to software.

Despite robotic exploration of space and artificial intelligence evolving during the same period (from the 1950s to present), the two did not meet in application until the early 1970s [1].

The consideration of the use of autonomous technologies for space exploration has been ongoing, with progressively greater numbers of missions incorporating autonomous control [2,3,4]; however, handing over control to a machine can, quite literally, create “terror” for human operators who would prefer to be teleoperating (remotely controlling) the spacecraft [5].

An investigation of what aspects of mission operations and decision making autonomy will be accepted in by the planetary science community is thus required to aid in development planning.These included the Remote Agent Experiment (RAX), the Auto Nav system and beacon software.RAX was allowed to control DS1 for several days—making DS1 the first spacecraft to be largely controlled by an onboard agent.It was progressively tested between 24 October 1998 and 20 April 1999 when it was placed in complete control of the spacecraft [22].The beacon software demonstrated a new approach in craft-to-ground communications.

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The craft was able to respond to emergencies and changing conditions; however, any planning changes required operator intervention [10,11].

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