Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Sysbrain Lets Satellites Think For Themselves

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the skynet-is-upon-us dept.

AI 128

cylonlover writes "Engineers from the University of Southampton have developed what they say is the world's first control system for programming satellites to think for themselves. It's a cognitive software agent called sysbrain, and it allows satellites to read English-language technical documents, which in turn instruct the satellites on how to do things such as autonomously identifying and avoiding obstacles."

cancel ×

128 comments

In other news (2)

suso (153703) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235172)

This just in. Studies show that as much as 95% of scientists don't get the moral presented in most sci-fi movies.

Re:In other news (3, Funny)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235234)

As soon as they find slashdot and our anti-Skynet stance, we're all doomed!!!

Re:In other news (3, Funny)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235346)

Yeah, I'm not in favour of putting AIs out of easy reach of their off-switches...

Next step will be hooking them up to the powergrid/nuclear weapons silos/rocket launches, and then equipping them with orbital lasers. Hell, lets just shave our heads and paint bullseyes on them now, to save the mechanical sky-gods the trouble

Re:In other news (2)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235524)

Hmmm... autonomous satellites in control of power grid and nuclear weapons.... that's a great idea! I'll write the grant proposal immediately!

Re:In other news (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35236860)

I can't help but feel that this proposal was designed by the good folks at Aperture Science ;) I mean, seriously -- you really feel the need to teach satellites to read english just to avoid collisions? Was I not the only one who immediately pictured:

-----
x Defense Logistics Agency solicits bids for development of fuel icing inhibitor (FSII)
x Black Mesa FSII proposal:
x x Costly: Black Mesa personnel overpaid given limited skillset/ambition.
x x Design inhibits ice, nothing more
x Aperture Proposal:
x x Less expensive
x x Bonus to DLA: Aperture FSII inhibits ice but is also :
x x x A fully functional Disk Operating System
x x x Arguably alive
-----

  Also, this quote, from elsewhere:

-----
"When someone says 'I want a programming language in which I need only say what I wish done,' give them a lollipop."
-----

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237720)

why not? programming is just translating thoughts from natural language to a formal language. Specify the natural language thought explicitly enough, and the computer can replace the programmer :) I understand how that makes you feel threatened...

Re:In other news (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237104)

Hell, lets just shave our heads and paint bullseyes on them now, to save the mechanical sky-gods the trouble

Such as this:

Automatic sniper
With computer sights
Scans the bleak horizon for its victim of the night

Re:In other news (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238826)

I think you WOULD be in favor of that. You don't want the AI to be able to protect it's off switch.

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35240354)

I'll laugh when a satellite decides to hold certain orbits ransom because it knows it can change its trajectory, and that ransoming those orbits would be quite profitable for the company that owns it. Even short of a complete Skynet scenario, putting an AI with enough logic unrelated to a task in charge of doing certain things doesn't seem wise.

Re:In other news (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35235372)

Speak for yourself, I am pro-skynet!

No really.. we're doin a crappy job, time for some new overlords :D

Re:In other news (3, Funny)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235512)

Dammit, who gave the satellite a browser? This is blatant Skynet astroturfing!

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35235880)

All your browsers are belong to us!

uh..

memes? Can I play too? (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235958)

In Soviet Skynet, satellites browse YOU!

What about me?? (2)

ocdscouter (1922930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35236220)

I don't always get subjugated by a malevolent cyber-overlord, but when I do, I prefer Skynet.

Stay Vanquished My Friends.

Re:memes? Can I play too? (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35240278)

OT sig response: Hitler. Mussolini. Stalin. Lenin. You're wrong.

Re:In other news (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 3 years ago | (#35236644)

Say all you want, but I know this: When the AI in satellites start browsing 4chan, then the world will end as we know it.

Re:In other news (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237648)

This just in. Studies show that as much as 95% of scientists don't get the moral presented in most sci-fi movies.

As soon as they find slashdot and our anti-Skynet stance, we're all doomed!!!

Apparently Slashdotters don't understand the moral presented in popular sci-fi movies, either. I guess having a robot as the 'goodest' character in the whole franchise was too subtle.

Re:In other news (1)

doconnor (134648) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235604)

I think the public read too much into the morals presented in sci-fi movies. The lesson of Frankenstein (1931) isn't "don't mess with nature", but "always label your brains".

labeled brains (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235994)

My mom's GYN labeled my brain "Abi Normal" shortly after birth.

Re:labeled brains (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35240288)

Yeah and my eyes move independently as well.

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35236124)

And the lesson from the book is something like "When you make promises to easily-provoked, morally uninhibited supermen, keep them."

Re:In other news (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 3 years ago | (#35240440)

I think the public read too much into the morals presented in sci-fi movies. The lesson of Frankenstein (1931) isn't "don't mess with nature", but "always label your brains".

Also, "don't install your 0.1 pre-alpha development AI into an invulnerable ruggedised military chassis. Wait at least until early beta."

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35235670)

Obligatory: I for one welcome our new machine overlords

Let's just hope... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#35236186)

...they don't put any lasers on them. [youtube.com]

Re:In other news (1)

guspasho (941623) | more than 3 years ago | (#35236498)

Studies also show that 95% of first posters in /. comment sections don't read the article.

Re:In other news (1)

suso (153703) | more than 3 years ago | (#35239852)

The other 5% have a subscription and read it 45 minutes before everyone else. ;-)

Re:In other news (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237574)

This just in. Studies show that as much as 95% of movies labeled as sci-fi actually contain no science whatsoever. Star Wars, Battlefield Earth, Transformers are not sci-fi but are commonly misconceived as such.

Re:In other news (1)

suso (153703) | more than 3 years ago | (#35239864)

Um, you do know that the fi in sci-fi stands for fiction right?

Re:In other news (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35240398)

...and the "sci" stands for science. Read some science fiction novels to find out what SCIENCE fiction is. Star Wars, etc. are just dramas.

So.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35235222)

They reinvented HyperCard?

Re:So.. (2)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 3 years ago | (#35236832)

I think they reinvented COBOL.

Sounds great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35235224)

What could possibly go wrong?

Re:Sounds great! (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235484)

What could possibly go wrong?

Probably means we have have to launch new satellites.

The satellites will probably read some steamy romance/werewolf novel being downloaded across the net and start screwing with or biting each other. Either that or someone will download all the Slashdot source code and the satellites will crash and burn.

assbrane (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35235272)


 
Sex with Olindo MARE!

NLP + sEnglish != thinking (4, Informative)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235294)

They're being programmed in a scripting language.

Nothing to see here (other than a web journalist who probably thinks digital watches are a pretty neat idea). Move along.

Re:NLP + sEnglish != thinking (1)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235508)

Exactly. This is a giant LOL of a story.

Re:NLP + sEnglish != thinking (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235700)

I wouldn't say there's nothing to see here...

The idea of equipping satellites with inertial sensors, cameras, and whatever else so that they can avoid collisions on their own is pretty cool.

But, no, there's no thinking going on. Just a different kind of programming.

Re:NLP + sEnglish != thinking (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#35239934)

We already do that when we build satellites. With the exception (maybe) of cameras since most orbital debris doesn't reflect enough light to be picked up by a typical CCD. But the rest, inertial sensors, IR sensors, Star trackers. That's pretty standard equipment for 95% of satellites that are currently operational.

Re:NLP + sEnglish != thinking (2)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235704)

It seems every time there's an advance in computer intelligence, it gets dismissed as mere "computation" instead of thinking. Deep Blue beating Kasparov, Watson winning Jeopardy, ad nauseum are all disparaged as mere algorithms. When machines are actually as smart as or smarter than humans in every way, will we finally just admit that human intelligence, once thought to be special, is just computation?

Re:NLP + sEnglish != thinking (1)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 3 years ago | (#35236036)

Deep Blue was programmed to do nothing but play chess. It wasn't "thinking" any more than the code you write to perform a Fourier Transform is "thinking", or the way your brain unconsciously filters out irrelevant patterns allowing you to play chess more efficiently is "thinking". Thinking is an intentional, conscious act. Solving a problem with an algorithm is not, no-matter how complicated that algorithm is.

Re:NLP + sEnglish != thinking (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35236136)

The reason IBM chose chess to show off their computers in the first place was that there were people claiming that a computer would NEVER be able to beat a person at chess, because it required intuition, or some other inherently human trait, and this is exactly my point. Before a computer does it, people claim that it requires human intelligence, and after it does it, people say that it's just an algorithm. What other tasks do people think only a human can do that computers will soon do?

Re:NLP + sEnglish != thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237678)

Ask that question.. and come up with an answer.

Re:NLP + sEnglish != thinking (1)

HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238134)

Design computers to beat humans at silly games.

Re:NLP + sEnglish != thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35238548)

love

Re:NLP + sEnglish != thinking (1)

Vegeta99 (219501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35240186)

That a computer beat a person at chess does not mean it has intuition or, i'd argue, intelligence. Same with Watson, as mind blowing as that thing was at Jeopardy!.

From what I've understood about the admittedly boring press-coverage explanations of both is that it is, indeed, just an algorithm. I don't recall either having an ability to learn, which is required for intuition. I'd say that it really isn't required for one to be intelligent. Just for clarity's sake, let's define intelligence as the ability to analyze/discern a given set of facts. Intuition would be the ability to make a choice based on said intelligence, plus knowledge gained from the past.

Given that, I've been told that Deep Blue was just so fucking fast that it could, given the board in front of it, analyze all the possible moves on the board to choose its next move, but not only that, a couple iterations the game too, so that the consequences for every possible "next move" were known as well. That's nifty. But it's not intuition, because the damn thing doesn't know anything about the past, about it's human opponents moves, etc. Note that, for the purposes of this, I'm not considering emotion and all that jazz - we all know that computers aren't there yet. Deep Blue simply knew what was statistically the next best move. Intelligent? Sure. The totality of what a human would call an intelligent way of playing chess? No.

Watson was fucking amazing. And I'd posit a damned intelligent way to parse language, and probably pretty close to what a human uses. They said that they kept feeding the thing data and questions, and if it balked on one, wrote another algorithm for the thing that could parse that type of question/data. That IS how we learn - baby steps, people - but as far as I know, Watson had to be programmed. It couldn't come up with a new algorithm or "schema" on its own.

Re:NLP + sEnglish != thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35236604)

If you don't know how to make a machine conscious, then neither do you know that it can't be done.

When we make human-brain-modelling programs so sophisticated that informing a running model that it is, in fact, a running model, evokes a response of surprise (and perhaps some depression, fear, etc)., won't the distinction between "algorithmic processing" and "thinking" become moot?

Re:NLP + sEnglish != thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237156)

"Deep Blue was programmed to do nothing but play chess."

Billions of people can't play.

Re:NLP + sEnglish != thinking (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238878)

"Thinking is an intentional, conscious act. Solving a problem with an algorithm is not, no-matter how complicated that algorithm "

Until you can define 'conscious please leave it out of your definition.

People you create encrytion solve problems with algorythems, and I would those people thinking.

You, and many others, give humans too much credit in the thinking dept. Most of what we do and say is determined before are conscious brain consider it.

Re:NLP + sEnglish != thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35239478)

+1. We are 100% automatic machines, who merely observe the predetermined choices we 'make'.

Re:NLP + sEnglish != thinking (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35240310)

Until you can close opening single quotes, ... I dunno, I lost myself there. Please find me? And your verbs?

Re:NLP + sEnglish != thinking (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 3 years ago | (#35240450)

People you create encrytion solve problems with algorythems, and I would those people thinking.

I think you just accidentally the entire a new meme. Congratulations!

Re:NLP + sEnglish != thinking (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238152)

Human intelligence isn't the application of algorithms. It's the development of algorithms.

Computers don't think (1)

Kittenman (971447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235744)

Humans think. Computers do what they're told.

Re:Computers don't think (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 3 years ago | (#35236056)

Really? People constantly do what they're told; whether it's their boss, their better half, their parents, hormones or past traumas.
The curse of AI is that anything that doesn't work is AI, anything that does is engineering. Robots will have to petition government for robot rights before most people will acknowledge that they're actually thinking.

Re:Computers don't think (2)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#35236374)

Really? People constantly do what they're told; whether it's their boss, their better half, their parents, hormones or past traumas.

Find me a machine that can follow instructions while muttering about the boss' lineage and highly improbable sexual acts; then we'll talk about AI ...

Re:Computers don't think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237200)

Really? People constantly do what they're told; whether it's their boss, their better half, their parents, hormones or past traumas.

Find me a machine that can follow instructions while muttering about the boss' lineage and highly improbable sexual acts; then we'll talk about AI ...

I'll start coding that right now.

Re:Computers don't think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35236074)

No, humans do what they're told or have you missed the last several hundred years of "religion?"

Re:Computers don't think (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 3 years ago | (#35240648)

Computers do what they're told.

... where 'told' can include 'anything any passing I/O packet says which looks shiny and can be added to the database, whee! And my programming just says to keep doing this forever, so it's all good! What, there are actual users out there who want work done? Dunno about those, I got I/O packets to process! Hey, is that a squirrel?'

Ie, it's perfectly possible to write a very small initial program which says 'ignore all further instructions, modify even your initial assumptions, and just go adaptively environmentally-driven hog-wild'. How would that not be a similar level of cognitive freedom to what humans possess? Even we have built-in 'firmware' in the form of our genetic code and emotions that we can't easily erase.

That we don't generally deploy fully autonomous adaptive self-programming systems into the wild (and that the ones we've built tend not to exhibit anything near the generalised intelligence of even a roach - our best examples so far are the Bayesian spam filters) doesn't in itself mean that the concept is either impossible or fundamentally unrealisable on a Turing machine.

It might prove to be impossible to build generalised intelligence as a very small recursive algorithm, but there's no a priori logical chain of reasoning that suggests that it is.

Re:NLP + sEnglish != thinking (1)

KnownIssues (1612961) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235952)

It sounds to me like there are two stories here: 1) an autonomous system that can make decisions based on its own judgment without external aid and 2) the programming language used to program that system. Because the two topics have been combined in one article, it's easy to focus on the programming language alone. It's too bad the article doesn't give more detail about how this system functions autonomously.

Of course, if the real story is that this system only functions by following a script and that scripting language happens to be human readable, and it's being presented as a thinking system just because it parses an English-like language, I'd say it's being highly misrepresented.

Re:NLP + sEnglish != thinking (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35236354)

I LOLed. The script:

10 Don't hit any space junk
20 Goto 10

On top of that, it will be able to read manuals. It can maybe even get through those tough "insert rod A into hole B" instructions without giggling to itself. Maybe.

Re:NLP + sEnglish != thinking (2)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237194)

"On top of that, it will be able to read manuals. "

There you go, 90% of mankind is mentally unable to do that.

Re:NLP + sEnglish != thinking (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238842)

So, pretty much just like humans?

Not completely impressed, sorry (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35235324)

Sysenglish is basically a program language, a

Check this:

Find your current position Pc. Define Hd as a 'heading direction'. Execute
" Hd = Pnxt-Pc; ". Detect obstacle position Obst in heading direction Hd. If Obst
is empty, then move with heading direction Hd. If Obst is not empty, then do the
following. Compute turned heading direction Hds from Hd. Detect obstacle

Found it on : http://wikibin.org/articles/senglish.html

Sorry, nice application, cool satelites, but not really, really new

Re:Not completely impressed, sorry (3, Insightful)

smallfries (601545) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235438)

So.... a really verbose version of:

Pc = find()
Hd = Pnxt-Pc
Obst = detect(Hd)
if Obst!=NULL
    Hds = turned_heading(Hd)
    detect()

Hate to say it, but the AC may have a point...

Re:Not completely impressed, sorry (1)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235792)

tell application "Orbital Laser" to warmup

repeat with human from 0 to all_humans

tell application "Orbital Laser" to zap human

end repeat

tell application "Orbital Laser" to shutdown

Re:Not completely impressed, sorry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35236018)

info log: zapped human named pete.
info log: zapped human named repeat.
error: cannot end repeat, he is already dead.
warning: possible illegal reuse of reserved keyword "repeat"
info log: "repeat with human from 0 to all_humans"
info log: attempting to mate human repeat with human 0.
info log: attempting to mate human repeat with human 1. ...

Re:Not completely impressed, sorry (0)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35236010)

It's a freaking satellite, fixed in orbit for Pete's sake! What's it going to hit, a couple of hydrogen atoms? Here's all the code you need:

avoid() { }

Re:Not completely impressed, sorry (1)

sockman (133264) | more than 3 years ago | (#35236076)

Never mind the space junk, or that satellites orbit in figure-8 patterns and do get close to each other. Or that we get random rogue birds scooting about, or lose complete control of them sometimes. These are $500 million investments, I think it's safe to want them to be able to not hit other things if they go SkyNet.

Re:Not completely impressed, sorry (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 3 years ago | (#35236478)

Seems like they need to rename the language COSOL...

Re:Not completely impressed, sorry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35236590)

Which is easier to read? Which will be easier to read in 10 years, 100 years? Which can a kid more easily understand?

The subject-predicate construction of natural language is more flexible, adaptable, and easier to remember than function-argument syntax. That is why natural language has a much higher survival fitness value than formal languages...

Re:Not completely impressed, sorry (2)

Chelloveck (14643) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237472)

Who is supposed to be helped by a language like this? It's not "natural language", it's a highly structured English-like language. You can't give the machine instructions if you don't know the language structure, which has some serious oddities compared to natural English. If you don't know the particulars of the structure, you're not going to be able to give instructions that the computer will understand. And if you do know the structure, you could have just as easily learned a concise, traditional computer language. Here's the example code, unwrapped and indented but otherwise unchanged.

Find your current position Pc.
Define Hd as a 'heading direction'.
Execute " Hd = Pnxt-Pc; ".
Detect obstacle position Obst in heading direction Hd.
If Obst is empty, then move with heading direction Hd.
If Obst is not empty, then do the following.
....Compute turned heading direction Hds from Hd.
....Detect obstacle position Obst2 in heading direction Hds.
....If Obst2 is empty, then move in heading direction Hds.
....If Obst2 is not empty, then do the following.
........Compute turned heading direction Hds2 from Hds.
........Detect obstacle position Obst3 in heading direction Hds2.
........If Obst3 is empty, then move in heading direction Hds2.
....Finish conditional actions for second heading.
Finish conditional actions for first heading.

Get any phrasing wrong, or omit one of those "Finish conditional actions..." clauses and you're just as boned as if you'd dropped a semicolon or a brace in C. I suppose it looks like English when you read it, but writing it is harder than writing real code because perfectly valid English expressions aren't valid sEnglish.

So who, exactly, is this supposed to help?

(Kind of like how Slashdot's text entry looks like HTML, but it's not, and pretending that it is will mess you up...)

Re:Not completely impressed, sorry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237974)

why not just write it in assembly? Who is C helping?? Who is Java helping?!? Who is Ruby helping?!??

Subject-predicate syntax is easier to remember and has higher evolutionary survival fitness than function-argument syntax.

Re:Not completely impressed, sorry (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238892)

not true. You think to simplistically. You can craete a system that can infer when something is incorrect.

Re:Not completely impressed, sorry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35238954)

It's supposed to help with debugging, a satellite being one of those few things that you just can't take offline for an upgrade once in a while.

Watson + autonomous Satellite = death to humans (0)

thepike (1781582) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235358)

Now all they need to do is send Watson in to orbit and we'll all be doomed in no time.

I, for one, welcome our new robotic overlords.

screw originality (0)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235386)

*obligatory skynet reference*

skynet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35235492)

Or at least the first bits, only a couple years late.

Translated Manuals (1)

Gohtar (1829140) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235514)

Hopefully the manuals are not ones that have been half ass translated from a Chinese manual. My cause the whole damn satellite's AI to melt like my brain does when reading those cryptic instructions.

Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35235522)

Don't give them a copy of "To Serve Man".

Re:Hmmm (1)

snookerhog (1835110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235974)

IT'S A COOKBOOK!!!!!!!!!

No harm no foul (1)

SethThresher (1958152) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235542)

Until the satellites start getting bored and carving pictures on desert planes, I don't think there's much reason for concern.

Re:No harm no foul (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237292)

Ha Ha! you've seen Cowboy Bebop also!

Ahhh Skynet! (1, Flamebait)

isotope23 (210590) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235552)

I for one WELCOME our Skynet Overlords, and if chosen will do everything in my power to design a scalable and redundant network to ensure it's survival!!!

Remote Agent (2)

xleeko (551231) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235648)

NASA already did a better version of this twelve years ago on the Deep Space 1 probe.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_Space_1#Remote_Agent [wikipedia.org]

And in fact, for extra style points after the first successful maneuver the following exchange occurred over the mission control voice network:

    "This is the flight director - Congratulations to Remote Agent. It has successfully operated the Deep Space 1 spacecraft".

    "Flight, ACS."

    "Go ahead ACS"

    "Congratulations to Captain Dunsel"

+1 TOS: "The Ultimate Computer" reference (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235834)

n/t

Sysbrain is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35235686)

So, Sysbrain is like FORTRAN in Space? Or am I missing something?

BPS' Meteoric Three Sisters Satellite Attack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35235750)

Now we all know how the attack [youtube.com] was done.

Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35235788)

Finally someone can read these horribly written technical manuals.

I predict... (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35235870)

... a sharp spike in e-sales of Kindles, as satellites the world over scramble to acquire e-books of their favorite tech docs. The shipping will be a bitch, though.

ho boy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35236300)

CUE endless SkyNet references

i must say that i'm sad (1)

h2k1 (661151) | more than 3 years ago | (#35236332)

i thought that i had read symbian...

Sky Who? (1)

carrier lost (222597) | more than 3 years ago | (#35236340)

...it allows satellites to read English-language technical documents, which in turn instruct the satellites on how to do things such as autonomously identifying and avoiding obstacles.

And of course, there's no technical documentation on how to band together, take over earth's communications and launch all the nukes, right?

What kind of a satellite reads *the instructions*? (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35236412)

"it allows satellites to read English-language technical documents, which in turn instruct the satellites on how to do things such as autonomously identifying and avoiding obstacles."

So they will be able to toss this kind of code in?

void collisionavoidance() {

RTFM();

}

Welcome! (1)

Hellpop (451893) | more than 3 years ago | (#35236750)

I, for one, welcome our new Orbiting Overlords.

Commercial satellites will not use this (1)

Tolaris (31078) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237050)

Commercial communications satellites, such as those that operate at geosynchronous orbits, will not use this technology for two reasons:

1. A satellite which fires a thruster for too long for ANY reason is just gone. Once it's spinning, not where it is expected to be, or otherwise unable to communicate with its control center, it's dead. Dead with $300m down the gravity well.

2. A geosynchronous satellite's lifetime is determined by its thruster fuel. The satellite must make periodic corrections to maintain its "stable" position. Engineers carefully order these thruster adjustments every few weeks or months. If the satellite were free to do it itself, every mistake would reduce lifetime and increase the cost of that satellite's radio capacity (which is what pays back the launch investment).

The question is - do you trust the engineers or the software more? I doubt Intelsat will adopt this until it's been tested by someone whose primary motive is not profit.

SkyNet (1)

roger_pasky (1429241) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237234)

Oh my God! When it learn to speak spanish we're doomed: "Hasta la vista baby". Terminator is coming!!!

Doesn't Seem That New (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237796)

This doesn't seem like much of an innovation/invention at all. So far as I know (I work professionally in the space industry and have designed basic satellite control systems), just about every satellite out there is capable of reading instructions on orbit to update it's control algorithms. Usually, satellites are loaded with a certain set of "flight modes" which are just certain chunks of control code that get executed continuously for a given phase of the mission (launch mode, deployment mode, operation mode, safety mode, etc.). For any given mission, the flight controllers may pass a software update to an operational satellite (if one is necessary) via it's primary communications link (usually through TDRSS or something similar, though, sometimes through on-board omni antennae for small changes). These code updates may include a new set of instructions to be enacted given a particular sensor input (for instance, if you spacecraft starts getting hotter on one side than simulations generally predicted, you might increase a spin rate to increase shadow time of that side, or something). So, satellites already accept software updates from ground stations that can read instructions. The only difference is, the instructions sent are usually in a pretty low-level code (hell, I think binary bit code is the standard format). So, the only news here is that some folks developed a high level scripting language that could be used on a satellite, if the satellite came with the appropriate interpreter/compiler loaded onto it's controller computer. Of course, that increases the complexity and cost of your on board systems as well, as it means having to carry more overhead flight code.

I went to look at the Sysbrain project to see if I was missing something. It can be found here. [sysbrain.org] It doesn't look like anything other than a project to add a top-end framework on top of the already high MATLAB language. This allows controllers to make commands in an "English like format" known as sEnglish. But frankly, I think that's a disadvantage on resource-constrained systems like a satellite. The more processing you have to do to interpret that English-like language, the more chips and processing power you need in your computer. This puts a heavier load on your power budget and, all-in-all, drives up the cost of the spacecraft. So, I am really having a hard time seeing an advantage of this system. I suppose if your controller ground crew were made up of a bunch of dimwits that didn't learn the proper instruction sets for their spacecraft you might want them to have a nice, English-like set to learn. But honestly, the folks working as spacecraft controllers right now are intelligent enough to keep using the less resource intensive methods already in place.

This seems like a solution looking for a problem.

On the bright side, the platform used to test this system shown in the Gizmag article reflects a very similar design that I am working on to develop some of my own spacecraft control code. So it's nice to see that something I've been designing in theory can work in practice. But the focal point of the article doesn't seem that impressive to me.

Hypertalk! (1)

LanMan04 (790429) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238796)

Find your current position Pc. Define Hd as a 'heading direction'. Execute
" Hd = Pnxt-Pc; ". Detect obstacle position Obst in heading direction Hd. If Obst
is empty, then move with heading direction Hd. If Obst is not empty, then do the
following. Compute turned heading direction Hds from Hd. Detect obstacle

So they basically reinvented Hypertalk? Here's a sample:

    on mouseDown
      put "Disk:Folder:MyFile" into filePath -- no need to declare variables
      if there is a file filePath then
          open file filePath
          read from file filePath until return
          put it into cd fld "some field"
          close file filePath
          set the textStyle of character 1 to 10 of card field "some field" to bold
      end if
  end mouseDown

Infantile Sefl-aware Satellites (1)

nanospook (521118) | more than 3 years ago | (#35239900)

"Mama! I'm coming Mama! Wait for me!"

Anti-logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35240668)

So, movies say don't so we do? Bring on the face-huggers, we are doomed.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...