While NASA's Mars rover Spirit has had to surrender to being stuck in its sand trap, its sibling continues to use every opportunity to search for and investigate new locations. Its unexpected longevity, coupled with the severe time and bandwidth constraints of communication with Mars, has now led NASA to use Opportunity for real Martian test drives of advances made in more autonomous robot behavior.
A new system called Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science, or AEGIS, allows the rover to automatically analyze images from its panoramic camera, select targets of interest, and then take multiple, narrow angle images through color filters. Deployment of this new software follows previous updates to increase Opportunity's capabilities to take intelligent decisions and continues a general trend towards more autonomy for robot rovers.
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