Rover Software Updates

NASA says that a ‘brain transplant’ is necessary for the Curiosity rover before it can spool up to begin its research mission on the surface of Mars.

Subroutines used during the descent and landing of the rover and its ancillary parts are no longer needed, and the available memory on the rover is limited, so the onboard software needs to be updated to include instructions that will help it navigate its environment.

The process takes a couple of days; data transmission rates are slow and the rover isn’t in constant contact with its controllers on Earth.

(Image is a 3D render released by NASA.)


Big dog robot

Boston Dynamics, a robotics company in the US, has been demonstrating a robot called BigDog which is designed to accompany soldiers over rough terrain, helping them to carry their gear.

Some of the demos (viewable at the YouTube link above) – in particular the clips of the robot recovering its balance on slippery ice – are really impressive.

If you’ve seen or played any of the Metal Gear games you’ll see immediate similarities between this robot and the much larger mechas in that series. Life imitating Art? Or something more sinister? …