According to a new study, the Curiosity Mars Rover is officially smart enough to choose its own exploration targets. Curiosity’s improved brain is owing to a software update that was done in October 2015 from the ground. This update, the Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science (AEGIS), is what gives the rover the ability to make various decisions for itself. Artificial intelligence is being used on a remote probe for the very first time and NASA scientists say that the results gathered show the high possibility of AI techniques such as these being used in future missions as well.

Valuable Progress in Curiosity Mars Rover after AEGIS Update

Thanks to the AEGIS update, the rover can be trained to find rocks with specific characteristics that the scientists on earth need investigating. This is a major step since the human controllers of Curiosity are not in direct contact with it at all times. Rather than waiting for a command such as “go and sample that piece of rock,” the rover can simply search for targets on its own without the need for direct contact with those controlling it. The lead system engineer responsible for the deployment of AEGIS, Raymond Francis said that it is not possible to be in constant touch with Curiosity since Mars rotates and there will be times when the rover is on the far side of the planet.

Curiosity’s Target Achievement Statistics Improve with AEGIS

The study shows that after the deployment of the Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science system, the rover was used 54 times from the period between May 13 last year and April 7 this year. Before intelligent targeting was installed, Curiosity had the ability to achieve 24 per cent of the targets that the scientists were interested in. However, after the AEGIS was installed, the rover has managed to achieve a whopping 93 per cent of the targets.