How Smart Can Robotic Space Explorers Get?

If a robot plunges into the ocean of an icy moon, perhaps near Saturn or Jupiter, its main problem will be figuring out what to do next. Even at light speed, it takes hours for communications to pass back and forth to Earth.

This means any robotic explorer would need to be smart enough to avoid danger, and sophisticated enough to figure out what information to send back. These were problems puzzling Yogesh Girdhar who, as a part of his doctorate dissertation at McGill University in Montreal, redid the "brains" of an undersea robot called Aqua. An underwater robot is somewhat analogous to a space-bound robot, as both face the difficulties of communication.

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