|OffWorld's smart robots would accompany and help astronauts on the moon / Photo Credit: HelenField (via Shutterstock)|
Astronauts and settlers would be accompanied by smart robots made by California-based company OffWorld to help them anytime on the moon, reported Elizabeth Howell of print and digital publication Space.com. OffWorld currently has undisclosed Fortune 500 companies paying it to send robots on earth for applications like mining. The technology is still in its early stages, but the company intends “to go a lot further.”
At the International Astronautical Congress, OffWorld CEO Jim Keravala told Space.com that he would be glad if future robotic generations could help NASA’s astronauts when they land on the moon’s surface, a mission slated to take place in 2024. Keravala explained that they are building up their skills by sending the robots in mines, tunnels, construction sites, and other infrastructure scenarios. He added, “As we build that learning, that will give us an unprecedented level of insight … as to how the hardware operates in different environments.”
Then, Keravala expressed his intention to possibly helping NASA’s plan to deploy humans on the moon. “At some point in time — I hope it's before we have our first woman and man on the surface — we will be deploying our lunar variants to the lunar surface,” he said. OffWorld’s “master plan” involves the use of smart robots, which are capable of learning from experience or “engage in ‘machine learning’ in computer engineer parlance.” OffWorld said the smart robots would prepare settlements for humans.
OffWorld plans to extract water ice for applications such as producing drinking water for humans to make rocket fuel. Operating in swarms, the robots will collaborate and make decisions by themselves, enabling them to adapt to their surroundings, Keravala stated. In a terrestrial mining area, for instance, "They can sense where the minerals and ore exist … and act accordingly.”
Eventually, OffWorld’s robots could self-replicate by building other robots using resources available on the moon, mars, or other places. OffWorld’s team presently has 26 people— and it is growing fast! It is working on establishing an office in Luxembourg to extract lunar volatiles like water.