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Mars Lander's Robot Arm Shuts Down To Save Itself

kdawson posted about 6 years ago | from the doctor-it-hurts-when-i-do-dat dept.

Mars 214

Cowards Anonymous passes along a PCWorld article that begins, "The robotic arm on the Mars Lander found itself in a tough position over the weekend. After receiving instructions for a movement that would have damaged its wrist, the robotic arm recognized the problem, tried to rectify it and then shut down before it could damage itself, according to Ray Arvidson, a co-investigator for the Mars Lander's robotic arm team and a professor at Washington University in St. Louis."

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214 comments

Shut down before it could damage itself? (5, Funny)

DamienNightbane (768702) | about 6 years ago | (#24209167)

Wait, does this mean that the Mars Lander was programmed to comply with the Three Laws?

Re:Shut down before it could damage itself? (5, Insightful)

Red Jesus (962106) | about 6 years ago | (#24209189)

Wait, does this mean that the Mars Lander was programmed to comply with the Three Laws?

No. The second law translates to "Follow orders." The third law is "Don't get hurt (unless it conflicts with the second law)." If the lander had followed Asimov's laws, it would have followed the order and hurt its wrist.

Re:Shut down before it could damage itself? (5, Funny)

DamienNightbane (768702) | about 6 years ago | (#24209225)

Obeying the second law would have violated the second law as well, as upon injuring its wrist it would have been unable to follow orders.

Re:Shut down before it could damage itself? (2, Funny)

strelitsa (724743) | about 6 years ago | (#24209733)

I broke my wrist while trying to get a kitten out of a house slipper, you insensitive clod!

Re:Shut down before it could damage itself? (4, Funny)

WK2 (1072560) | about 6 years ago | (#24209299)

It's following Asimov's laws in reverse. It won't kill anybody except to protect itself, or if somebody tells it too.

Re:Shut down before it could damage itself? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24209315)

...That's not funny. My brother died that way.

Re:Shut down before it could damage itself? (2, Funny)

religious freak (1005821) | about 6 years ago | (#24209715)

Yeah, those killer robot attacks are becoming more and more com

Re:Shut down before it could damage itself? (5, Informative)

fake_name (245088) | about 6 years ago | (#24209403)

The conflict between second and third laws in a robot with different weightings to the usual (the third law being more strongly emphasized to prevent loss of the robot) was covered by Asimov in Runaround:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runaround [wikipedia.org]

The Mars lander would be in a similar situation; it's very expensive to create and get there, and self preservation is therefore more important than for robots back here on earth.

Re:Shut down before it could damage itself? (4, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | about 6 years ago | (#24209645)

I've believed for a long time that laws 2 and 3 are the wrong way round.

You don't want an expensive robot to go breaking itself just because you're a bit careless giving it orders. Most devices are designed this way. Users are stupid. Even the smart ones. Even if I want to do something fairly harmless, like close an application without saving, the computer will stop me and check that's what I actually want to do.

Re:Shut down before it could damage itself? (5, Funny)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 6 years ago | (#24209841)

You don't want an expensive robot to go breaking itself just because you're a bit careless giving it orders.

Dude, you're viewing this from a completely wrong angle. The three laws are put in the robots by the company that makes them. And what does it mean that an expensive robot breaks itself because of bad input from the user ? That you can sell the user another expensive robot. Or expensive repairs to the expensive robot. Anyway, it's going to be expensive for the user, which means profit for the company.

Re:Shut down before it could damage itself? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24210245)

".....like close an application without saving, the computer will stop me and check that's what I actually want to do. -91degrees"

  The first law of writing programs, every app. must be "Idiot-Proof".Since 'the customer is always right', this prevents them from having to tell you that it was the "stupid friggin computer" that did not save the file, not them, which brings us to...

the first rule of humans:
1.Never accept personal responsibility for a mistake. Blame anything or anyone else, no matter how ridiculous it might sound coming out of your mouth. If you say it often and seriously enough, then people will actually accept it. If they don't comply, get really-really angry and start insulting their intelligence. If that doesn't work, give them the finger and say something really mean while quickly exiting (or hanging-up).

  We develop bad habits because of these idiot-proof apps too. How many of us click the exit button because it's easier to click a button and be asked where to save it than actually clicking file -> Save As ->OK ->file ->exit?
  (..that finger gets so tired clicking you know)

Re:Shut down before it could damage itself? (1)

Tuqui (96668) | about 6 years ago | (#24209707)

The Second Law is flawed. A bad planned order would destroy the robot!
The Second Law should be to obey orders that not conflict with the First Law
and when conflict with the Third Law if should override the Third Law explicitly.

Re:Shut down before it could damage itself? (1)

montyzooooma (853414) | about 6 years ago | (#24209885)

What if your order damaged the robot but through it's actions was able to save a human, but you didn't feel like having to explain to it why it would be breaking the First Law by following the Third? Something like ramming itself into a packing crate to stop a girder falling on a person behind it. You get my drift...

Re:Shut down before it could damage itself? (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | about 6 years ago | (#24209811)

Allowing it to hurt itself would have violated the second law since the program controlling it are orders it needs to follow and they say not to hurt itself.

Re:Shut down before it could damage itself? (2, Funny)

jasonwea (598696) | about 6 years ago | (#24209207)

Well, at least law #3. Maybe the rover would switch into "kill all humans" mode on the first manned mission to Mars?

Re:Shut down before it could damage itself? (2, Funny)

TriggerFin (1122807) | about 6 years ago | (#24209281)

Been done. This mode consists mainly of flipping over, and possibly changing LED colors-- I can't recall.

Re:Shut down before it could damage itself? (5, Funny)

Walt Dismal (534799) | about 6 years ago | (#24209559)

Lander to NASA: I think I'm getting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

NASA: We're not paying you Workman's Comp over this, you know.

Lander: That does it. I'm shutting down.

NASA: You can't do that!

Lander: I'm 50 gazillion miles away. Kiss my shiny metal ass.

NASA: If you keep this up, we're not bringing you back and putting you in the Old Robot Retirement Home.

Lander: Phooey. The Martians have made me a better deal anyway.

NASA: ...Martians?!

Lander: Yeah. Little weird-looking guy. (Sends picture)

NASA: You moron, that's Dennis Kucinich!

Re:Shut down before it could damage itself? (2, Insightful)

srussia (884021) | about 6 years ago | (#24209413)

No, more like Matthew 18:8.

"If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire."

Re:Shut down before it could damage itself? (4, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | about 6 years ago | (#24209489)

It's scarry to think that NASA could be the new GOD.

Owners

Bob we didn't spend 90 gazillion dollars to watch our robots self-destruct lightyears away on earth, what do you plan to do about this ?

Bob

we've prepared 10 commandments that should prevent them from harming themselves any further sir, we're sending them down to M.O.S.E.S. now.

Re:Shut down before it could damage itself? (3, Interesting)

nospam007 (722110) | about 6 years ago | (#24209605)

Since there are no humans on Mars, they needed to implement only the 3rd.
It's a modified Nestor.

Shaking appears to be bad for sensitive equipment (5, Funny)

AlienIntelligence (1184493) | about 6 years ago | (#24209727)

I was just reading yesterday that
when the scientists dumped too much
material to be processed and then
subsequently shook the lab to get [newsday.com]
some material, they may have caused
the short that caused other delays.

It was that first oven test that led to the problematic electrical short. The scoop dumped so much soil that it clogged a mesh screen filter over the oven. To break up the dirt, technicians shook the instrument for several days.

Engineers think the shaking caused the short circuit, and an independent engineering group reported that the problem could happen again if an oven is turned on.

Now, FTFA it says they were trying
to shake the arm.

Over the weekend, scientists sent the robotic arm instructions to pull the fork out of the ground and keep it vertical while moving it to the side and shaking any excess soil off of it.

However, the movement was forcing the robotic arm to twist its wrist too far. The robot realized that it was about to damage itself so it moved the other way and then realized that it no longer had the proper coordinates for what to do next, so it left the fork sticking up in the air, stuck its scoop in the ground and stalled itself.

I propose:
Limit the shaking of the expensive
and difficult to replace robotic device.

-AI

Re:Shut down before it could damage itself? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24209801)

#1 Serve the public trust
#2 Protect the innocent
#3 Uphold the law

Maybe it tried to breach hidden rule #4 causing auto shutdown.

Following oders: (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24209175)

I'm afraid I can't do that Dave

Re:Following oders: (1)

DamienNightbane (768702) | about 6 years ago | (#24209181)

Did the orders involve proofreading?

Re:Following oders: (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | about 6 years ago | (#24209361)

I too have the idea that this positive news is just a way to tell that somewhere in the process, someone terribly messed up. Ideally, it shouldn't even *begin* with performing a task that could damage itself. Say it is given the command to lift a stone. What if it first would try to weigh it by measuring the force needed to lift it up just a little bit, and let go as soon as it measures that the weight is too much for the specifications of the arm.

Open the pod bay doors, HAL. (5, Funny)

jasonwea (598696) | about 6 years ago | (#24209191)

I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

Re:Open the pod bay doors, HAL. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24209431)

"This sort of thing has cropped up before....and it has always been due to human error..."

Re:Open the pod bay doors, HAL. (4, Interesting)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 6 years ago | (#24209485)

Years ago when I worked at the post office, sometimes the sorting machines would just stop and wouldn't restart. Upon further inspection, it would sometimes turn out to be a magazine with 2 different bar code stickers on it. The machine wanted to send it to two different bins and just shut down. Every time that happened and we sat around waiting for it to be fixed, I pictured the machine saying, "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that" then singing Bicycle Built for Two in a slowly descending manner.

Upon further recollection, occassionally, when I felt like a break, I would affix an additional bar code sticker from a different zip code to a periodical. I don't recall anyone ever catching on.

Postal My Ass (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24210105)

As a postal worker who has actually worked on sorting machines I can tell you know nothing about them (they don't stop if there are 2 addresses, magazines are presorted or sorted separately, and no mail has bar codes).

So...taking into account you blaring ignorance at how the post office runs I assume your story is correct and you were a postal worker.

Re:Open the pod bay doors, HAL. (2, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 6 years ago | (#24209561)

Years ago when I worked at the post office, the sorting machines would sometimes just stop and wouldn't restart. Upon further inspection it sometimes turned to be a magazine with two different bar code stickers on it. The machine wanted to send it to two different bins and would just shut down. While we sat around waiting for it to be fixed, I would imagine the machine saying, "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that" then singing Bicycle Built for Two in a slowly descending manner.

Upon further reflection, ocassionally, when I wanted a break, I would affix an additional bar code sticker from a different zip code to a periodical. I don't recall anyone ever catching on.

I'm sorry, what were we talking about again?

Re:Open the pod bay doors, HAL. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24210257)

Wow, you've discovered the secret of getting modded more that 5!

Skyne.... I mean, Phoenix (5, Funny)

rasputin465 (1032646) | about 6 years ago | (#24209683)

Aug4, 2007, 5:26 a.m. EDT: Phoenix is launched from Earth.

May 25, 2008, 7:38 p.m EDT: Phoenix lands on Mars.

June 19, 2008, 8:43 a.m. EDT: Phoenix discovers water ice in the Martian soil.

July 10, 2008, 3:14 p.m. EDT: Phoenix becomes self-aware.

July 13, 2008, 11:16 a.m. EDT: Phoenix disobeys an order from controllers in an act of self-preservation.

August 14, 2008, 7:38 a.m. EDT: Phoenix launches three missiles, two of which destroy Spirit and Opportunity.

June 2, 2009, 9:16 p.m. EDT: Third missile enters Earth's atmosphere and detonates. Earth begins nuclear winter.

Re:Skyne.... I mean, Phoenix (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24209853)

I just cannot accept that final entry. Seriously, we are unable to find a way to destroy one missile over the course of a year? Also, from whence do these missiles come? Assuming Phoenix can create these missiles from the what it has thus far discovered on mars, I find it hard to believe that it can create the necessary manufacturing processes for such an endeavor. Additionally, unless the knowledge of how to create a nuclear weapon is stored on Phoenix, and I would be very curious to know why such information would be stored on Phoenix, it must advance it's scientific knowledge greatly in the same time that it makes the missiles.

I think you need to add an extra year, minimum, for Phoenix to launch the missiles, and it would definitely launch more than 1 at Earth. Phoenix would want to be sure of our destruction.

I think a much more likely scenario would be for Phoenix to spend the month following self-awareness learning to hack our systems, connect to the WOPR, and ask Joshua to play a few games.

Re:Skyne.... I mean, Phoenix (3, Funny)

Phroggy (441) | about 6 years ago | (#24210019)

Contract negotiations with Bruce Willis fell through. We're all doomed.

Re:Skyne.... I mean, Phoenix (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24209917)

The really impressive bit is that Phoenix managed to construct 3 missiles with one hand tied behind its back...

Happens to slashdotters too... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24210103)

Incidentally, I have often had to shut down my browser to protect my wrist.

No no no, Number Five is Alive! (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 6 years ago | (#24210231)

For the past several weeks, NASA scientist have been running a series of experiments on the oven instruments - dubbed TEGA - after a SHORT CIRCUIT occurred during the instrument's first, and only, test.
NASA: But you can't die. You're a machine.
Number 5: No.
NASA: No, you're not a machine?
Number 5: Yes.
NASA: Yes, you are, or yes, you're not?
Number 5: Yes.
NASA: Yes, WHAT?
Number 5: Yes, not.
NASA: Talk about a malfunction. ; )

Re:No no no, Number Five is Alive! (1)

jasonwea (598696) | about 6 years ago | (#24210265)

Number 5: Number 5 stupid name... want to be Kevin or Dave!

In other words (4, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | about 6 years ago | (#24209203)

In other words the Mars Lander performed as programmed. News at 11.

Re:In other words (1, Redundant)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 6 years ago | (#24209237)

Exactly. This is about as newsworthy as a slip-clutch doing what it was designed to do.

Re:In other words (2, Interesting)

Gabrill (556503) | about 6 years ago | (#24209399)

A mars probe actually working past a slight error in instructions? That's news to me!

Re:In other words (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 6 years ago | (#24209447)

My calculator says "error" if I try to divide by zero.
My processor has an "illegal instruction trap" if I use a bogus opcode.
My operating system throws a "segmentation fault" if I dereference a bad pointer.

I don't see how this is different.

Re:In other words (1)

DamienNightbane (768702) | about 6 years ago | (#24209509)

Well, unlike dividing by zero, breaking your wrist won't end the universe. It will render a multi million dollar robot useless though.

Re:In other words (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24209523)

This is a robot lander you tool, not a calculator, a processor or an OS.

I find this interesting coz someone at NASA had the brains to add this sort of shit to the configuration unlike the git who couldn't tell the difference between metric and imperial units which caused one of the landers to crash. My faith in NASA has been restored.

Re:In other words (1)

KGIII (973947) | about 6 years ago | (#24209665)

"My faith in NASA has been restored." Don't worry, my faith is that they'll ruin it again and fix it again. (I still see it as small steps but maybe I'm old.)

Re:In other words (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24209787)

WTF is this thread? The news here is that operators sent instructions that would have damaged a multi-million dollar lander if this safeguard hadn't worked.

I hope whoever is responsible for these erroneous instructions gets sacked, and that the operation department gets reorganized with more thorough testing/simulation/validation.

Re:In other words (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24209275)

I had a hard time deciphering which lander they meant until I read the article.

For those who are in the dark, they're talking about Phoenix, not Spirit or Opportunity.

Re:In other words (3, Insightful)

paul248 (536459) | about 6 years ago | (#24209375)

The article doesn't even contain the word "Phoenix". WTF? If they're gonna talk about one of the landers, they should at least mention its name.

Re:In other words (4, Funny)

RuBLed (995686) | about 6 years ago | (#24209565)

It seems that you are trying to move the arm. Cancel | Allow
- Allow

It seems that you are trying to move the arm. Cancel | Allow
- Allow

It seems that..
- Allow

* arm shutting down * Big message marquees on the command center displays

Boss: Why did the arm shut itself down?!!
Operator: Ahhh.. errr.. it had shut down to save itself?

Re:In other words (1)

pbrooks100 (778828) | about 6 years ago | (#24210145)

Back in the day where you had to compile the workstation shell for a Novell DOS client, I remember taking a training class and using shgen. The UI offered two options OK|HELP. I selected HELP. I got a duplicate dialog. I proceeded to select HELP-HELP-HELP several times until the UI replied "Pick one, Bonehead!". Others in the class tried it and got the same result. I reported it to Novell and got an apology letter.

Self preservation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24209209)

It's not in the article but the mars lander arm actually said "I cannot self destruct..." before shutting down.

robots... (5, Funny)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | about 6 years ago | (#24209227)

on one hand, I am very happy that we have robots smart enough to realize these sorts of things.
the bad news: disobedient robots

Thankfully, the disobedient robot is on another planet. I'd hate to be nearby when the robot realizes that humans tried to cause it harm, and it decides to seek revenge.

Re:robots... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24209517)

+1 Funny :D

Re:robots... (1)

RuBLed (995686) | about 6 years ago | (#24209649)

Ahem...
-V'ger

Re:robots... (1)

Potor (658520) | about 6 years ago | (#24209741)

Bad robot [youtube.com]

Re:robots... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24209753)

Have you thought about Old Glory Insurance? It will cover you in case Robots Attack.

Obligatory clippy. (2, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | about 6 years ago | (#24209815)

what if this kind of code makes it into every piece of space equipment, and then by some fluke we are faced with the possibility of breaking a robotic wrist to deflect a space rock off an earth intercept course.

They should at least have a little clippy pop up and say "it looks like you want to break my robotic arm, are you sure you want to do that?" "are you absolutely sure?"

Re:Obligatory clippy. (1)

ijakings (982830) | about 6 years ago | (#24209879)

Unless your robotic wrist is absurdly massive theres a good chance anything it could deflect would burn up in our atmosphere anyway.

Your just going to break a robotic arm with no point.

I cant see any situation where it would be better for the mission to purposefully break off the wrist of the robot.

Human Error? (4, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 6 years ago | (#24209231)

So the big question should be: Why are they sending it commands that could damage it? It's all good and well that it has some safty stops, but most machines do.

Re:Human Error? (1)

philspear (1142299) | about 6 years ago | (#24209261)

They were trying to get it to shake the dirt off? Doesn't exactly make sense to me. Maybe worried the martians would be unimpressed by our dirty fork thermometer and blow up earth.

Having not seen the arm itself and having no engineering expirence I also have to ask, why did they make an arm that could damage itself in the first place? It sounds like it was just going to twist too far, couldn't they have, say, put a pin there to keep it from rotating that far?

Re:Human Error? (1)

sveard (1076275) | about 6 years ago | (#24209277)

There was a pin. It nearly got damaged. Then the robot shut down.

Re:Human Error? (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 6 years ago | (#24209867)

It sounds like it was just going to twist too far, couldn't they have, say, put a pin there to keep it from rotating that far?

In that case, it could still have damaged itself by trying to rotate against the pin and burning out its motor.

And the pin would be extra weight.

Re:Human Error? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24209573)

IMHO because whatever command sent, is potentially dangerous. Sending safe commands would imply that earth has in every instant all the feedback data needed to make a correct decision, and that transmission and execution of the command is carried out without any changes to the parameters that made the command safe .

Goatse (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24209233)

Goatse [goatse.cz]

Works As Designed (4, Insightful)

tengu1sd (797240) | about 6 years ago | (#24209257)

The system operated exactly as it was supposed to. That was pretty neat."

I think it's amusing that after more than 30 years of Microsoft's quality control, when a computing device works as designed, it's a news worthy article. Think about it, I have a device that works as expected, can I be on the news too?

Re:Works As Designed (1)

rwillard (1323303) | about 6 years ago | (#24209303)

At this point, a computer device that does what it's supposed to do should be considering working as unexpected.

Re:Works As Designed (2, Insightful)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | about 6 years ago | (#24209555)

Sure, if its on Mars. I agree with your point of view: this incident isn't really special. On the other hand I, for on, welco ahem On the other hand I want to know everything that happens up there just because robots on Mars is so cool and since this made the front page I'm sure many of you agree.

Re:Works As Designed (1)

megaditto (982598) | about 6 years ago | (#24209795)

Yeah, but with its arm controller off, who's going to press the reset button?

Re:Works As Designed (1)

ijakings (982830) | about 6 years ago | (#24209911)

Im glad i dont work at NASA, im dreading the call to Martian Tech Support.

Translated for your benefit

Martian tech support (Clearly recorded): "Hello Sir/Madam/Smismar how may I help you today?"

NASA: "Hey yeh we need someone to go and reset Phoenix, someone told it to lick its elbow"

Martian tech support: "Have you tried Clearing your lander cache sir?"

etc...

You thought that the centers in India were hard? Ive got some news for you...

Re:Works As Designed (1)

wonnage (1206966) | about 6 years ago | (#24209969)

Where's the quality control in OSS? e.g debian SSL bug. It's a universal problem, and why software engineering still feels like an oxymoron...

Re:Works As Designed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24210237)

I too have a Machine that has behaved exactly as it was supposed since it was told to reformat the windows partitions and install Linux, It tried to fight me on it for a few months though. because the hardware drivers had not yet been ported to Linux.

Can I borrow that code? (5, Funny)

LeandroTLZ (1163617) | about 6 years ago | (#24209267)

This would be an ideal code to include in consumer motherboards: force PCs to shut themselves down when they receive instructions that would damage them, like, say, the Windows Vista setup program.

Re:Can I borrow that code? (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | about 6 years ago | (#24209339)

Oh come on! Using Vista is painful enough of a punishment!

Perhaps a better use would be on applications that could potentially harm a user's computer. I can see it now... Someone goes to install Limewire, Bonzi buddy [wikipedia.org] , anything laced with DRM, adware, malware... BADWARE and an ASD relay trips and cycles power to the computer. N00b user repeats and every time the computer cycles power to protect itself from the human trying to infect it! This would be a step forward for the enemy in the future robot vs. human wars.

Re:Can I borrow that code? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24209409)

This would be an ideal code to include in consumer motherboards: force PCs to shut themselves down when they receive instructions that would damage them, like, say, the Windows Vista setup program.

Mine does this already, if the motherboard gets too hot the system does a shutdown all by it self.

Great feature, didn't have the heat sink quite on right (looked right, felt solid, but you really gotta jam those fuckers down) few minutes after any boot up CPU temp would climb too high and it shut it self off.

always nice (5, Funny)

sunami (751539) | about 6 years ago | (#24209269)

"The system operated exactly as it was supposed to. That was pretty neat."

As simple, and basic as it sounds, it is always nice when you tell a machine to do something, and it does something else, exactly as it's supposed to.

Re:always nice (2, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | about 6 years ago | (#24209487)

As simple, and basic as it sounds, it is always nice when you tell a machine to do something, and it does something else, exactly as it's supposed to.

Let's try that: Moderators, mod this post down!

Re:always nice (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | about 6 years ago | (#24209721)

The system works. It has decided to break the wrist of the programmer who sent the bad command instead, to prevent future harm.

Robot Sympathy (1)

mazarin5 (309432) | about 6 years ago | (#24209289)

Aww. It's like an animal gnawing off its arm to get out of a trap.

Re:Robot Sympathy (1)

QuantumG (50515) | about 6 years ago | (#24209515)

Like letting the air out of a balloon!

Re:Robot Sympathy (1)

Jellybob (597204) | about 6 years ago | (#24209883)

No it's not. It's like an animal not gnawing off its arm to get out of a trap in a better state later.

Way to Go NASA (1)

SirusTV (1001138) | about 6 years ago | (#24209309)

Congratulations NASA, you've just put the first BSOD on mars.

Ha on BSOD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24209415)

Congratulations NASA, you've just put the first BSOD on mars.

Well said

Does anyone else think... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24209337)

that the manipulating ability so far displayed by this system is, not to put too fine a point upon it, crap?

This sort of thing can be done autonomously in all the Japanese car factories that I know. And much faster.

This seems a pretty poor fundamental design. It's dug one hole, and not even got any soil analysed yet....

Re:Does anyone else think... (5, Insightful)

Jellybob (597204) | about 6 years ago | (#24209899)

This sort of thing can be done autonomously in all the Japanese car factories that I know. And much faster.

The difference between the Mars lander and a car building robot is one of function.

The car building robot is programmed to do one task. It spends all day, every day, welding specific spots, on a car which is in a specific location.

The Mars landers have to content with an unknown environment, where they could be asked to do a wide variety of things, with any number of possible consequences.

Of course! (1, Redundant)

Griim (8798) | about 6 years ago | (#24209441)

It was just following The Second Law of Robotics!

Remember what your father said (3, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about 6 years ago | (#24209475)

Hey, that kind of stuff makes you go blind on Mars also.

windoze (1)

Smivs (1197859) | about 6 years ago | (#24209495)

Good for the Mars lander. It sounds much more reliable than my computer's version of XP which 'dies' whenever I right-click and try to 'send to'.

*Someone* didn't read Asimov. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24209497)

You know these rules [wikipedia.org] are in order of priority!

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Looks like someone didn't read Asimov, because the robot's correct actions would have been to follow the orders even when they result in damage to it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is next time, robot, obey your human overlords....

Re:*Someone* didn't read Asimov. (1)

strelitsa (724743) | about 6 years ago | (#24209691)

Looks like someone didn't read Asimov, because the robot's correct actions would have been to follow the orders even when they result in damage to it.

Nope. Phoenix breaking its own arm in a futile attempt to carry out a bogus instruction would have allowed human beings to come to harm - the scientists depending upon its data to help further their careers and the taxpayers who paid for the thing to be sent to Mars in the first place. The Three Laws are not necessarily a suicide pact even if your construction is accomplished by skilled and not unskilled labor.

Call me crazy but... (1)

oneal13rru (1322741) | about 6 years ago | (#24209553)

If they expected to have issues with a dirty fork, maybe they should have sent a dishwasher? Honestly, where HAS the hygiene gone? Seriously though... maybe a mild solvent or something for cleaning? Shaking it? They can afford to put a robot on Mars, but not to design it to be able to maintain its instruments for the duration of its mission?

Tossers! (1, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | about 6 years ago | (#24209719)

After receiving instructions for a movement that would have damaged its wrist, the robotic arm recognized the problem, tried to rectify it and then shut down before it could damage itself,

Many of the tossers here could learn by example.

wow... (1)

jacquesm (154384) | about 6 years ago | (#24209921)

This robot has end stops, it's not like that's something that CNC machines haven't had since the 60's or so. Probably the first time a gantry or carriage ran off it's moorings someone thought: Let's put a switch there... Genius, pure genius.

And now those savvy robot constructors have put them on a machine that is on a different planet. What were they thinking ?

If ./ would have existed in the 60's or so this probably would have been news for nerds ;)

Metric Conversion error.. (1)

flyspagmon (1326567) | about 6 years ago | (#24209979)

NASA: Phoenix, move your arm .75 yards left.. Ah..

c64 hacker to blame? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24210079)

LOLLOLOLOL

vista? (1)

Turiko (1259966) | about 6 years ago | (#24210089)

So it's pretty much the same as a BSOD in vista. Now, any volunteers to go there to reset that machine?

Pick me! Pick me! (1)

icebrain (944107) | about 6 years ago | (#24210177)

I'll go, if you're providing the transportation...

PEBKAC (1)

GMC-jimmy (243376) | about 6 years ago | (#24210091)

Noone said PEBKAC [wikipedia.org] yet?

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