Japanese rocket engineers hope to outfit their launchers with an artificial intelligence capable of controlling its own body and launch. Current modern rockets are automated, but don't feature many decision-making algorithms.
Modern rockets have some degree of automation, as well as onboard sensors that inform engineers on the ground about trajectory, malfunctions and so on. But the setup is rather like a "check engine" light in a car that alerts the driver to an unspecified problem and neither offers nor implements a solution.
While the recent earthquake and tsunami might delay implementation, the new AI rockets, dubbed Epsilon, are slated for a 2013 maiden launch.
An AI-controlled rocket contains many obvious benefits, notably efficiency and cost. Once launched, modern rockets are usually controlled by a Mission Control Room staffed by dozens of people. If anything unusual happens, there's often a delay in the decision making process, and then ...read more