Researchers are looking for new methods to make robots more autonomous, as NASA launches missions on distant planets and moons. Communication between ground operators and robots would take hours even at the speed of light, so robots need to be fairly autonomous. Researchers want robots to be able to identify and avoid danger, while figuring out where to travel on their own.
The Red planet of Mars pushes the boundaries of how humans are able to control robots, and anything further presents more logistical problems. It would be ideal for robots to be able to accurately detect the physical environment and analyze unique points that could be further studied by researchers.
"The amount of data is a problem. You can't be streaming HD video from Mars all the time, live, down to Earth," said Yogesh Girdhar, postdoctoral scholar at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in a statement published by Space.com. "The same thing happens underwater. There are no radio waves. Because of salt water, you can only use an acoustic modem."