Robots set to build space colonies with VR-based AI

  • Engineers overseeing space robot progress

A Tokyo-based start-up are developing software that will allow robots to mimic and learn movements from humans.

SE4’s overall goal is to develop robots that will eventually build human colonies in space. However, there’s a huge obstacle in the form of the time delay in communications between Earth and other planets, which can take anywhere between 3 and 22 minutes.

“If you’re going to Mars and you want to communicate with your robot or spacecraft there, you need to have it act semi- or mostly-independently so that it can operate without commands from Earth,” said Laura Seward Forczyk, a planetary scientist and consultant for space start-ups.

This has meant that SE4 have shifted their immediate focus towards creating software that will help robots learn and remember instructions from humans and then make simple judgements based on the situation.

If you’re going to Mars and you want to communicate with your robot or spacecraft there, you need to have it act semi- or mostly-independently so that it can operate without commands from Earth

The software also teaches the robots about the objects they’re going to be working with by ‘labelling’ each object with a purpose, for example if something is a building material or a rock. This will help as construction robots are often deployed in more predictable settings. This won’t be the case once they’re sent into space and therefore, they’ll need to be as informed about their surroundings as possible. “Every robot in an industrial setting today is expecting a controlled environment,” said SE4 CEO Lochlainn Wilson.

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