A research group at Georgia Tech, leaded by Lakshmi Nair, is trying to figure out how robots can learn to tend to themselves.
Inspired by the trouble faced by the crew of Apollo 13 back in 1970 where an oxygen tank exploded on the vessel leaving the members aboard on a three-day hiatus before solving the problem.
Explaining the inspiration behind the project further, “When I came across that story, one of the things that struck me was that it took a very long time to come up with that solution, I thought that was a space that robotics might be able to make a difference.”
Nair’s team is creating a robot equipped with a supervised learning program and a camera-enhanced robotic arm to create tools that can help it solve problems when brought with a relatively random set of objects.
The idea is to aid future space exploration crews and military personnel in lessening the hassle of having to deal with technical emergencies. The team envisions a future where robots could be used as scouts, to create livable structures on the moon or Mars out of what’s around them, before humans arrive there.