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Intelligent Agents

Some of the new systems will be complex, sophisticated, intelligent agents – individual machines capable of performing sophisticated tasks by themselves without any need for human guidance. Many of these systems will be autonomous mobile robots, self-propelled machines with complex sensors and actuators, capable of perceiving and manipulating their environment in a sophisticated way.

Intelligent agents will appear in many new situations - where the ability to deploy autonomous systems offers the opportunity to do things never possible before. We will be able to perform tasks in environments previously considered too dangerous to enter. For example, robots could search for, and extract, minerals from the ocean floor, or perform complex tasks in deep space.

Other intelligent agents may offer new levels of capability in situations we already understand today. For example, medical robots may be able to perform new types of surgery that would otherwise be impossible for human doctors; automated cars may be able to drive on highways at speeds and traffic densities previously considered unsafe for human drivers to attempt.

Emerging robotics applications include other tasks we may simply consider to dull or unpleasant to wish to perform. Robots are already performing tasks such as vacuum cleaning, lawn mowing, and we are already moving towards the introduction of domestic robots with machines such as the “Wakamaru” from Japan. The robots of movies such as “I Robot”, “Star Trek” or “Star Wars” may still be science fiction, but the introduction of the first machines that will begin to look like them is not so far away.

 

 

Image courtesy of NASA.

Image above: The NASA Hydrobot – a planned future intelligent autonomous robot for exploring Europa, a moon of Jupiter.

This is one of the most ambitious intelligent system projects ever conceived to date, and would need to be extremely dependable to work in such an alien environment.

         
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