[Paleopsych] NS: Ant logic makes sense in space

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Ant logic makes sense in space

      * 10 September 2005

    A spacecraft skin is being developed that assesses the severity of any
    damage it suffers from space debris and other impacts. The project,
    which is inspired by the behaviour of ants, is seen as the first step
    towards a self-repairing craft.

    The team at CSIRO, Australia's national research organisation, is
    working with NASA on the project and has so far created a model skin
    made up of 192 separate cells. Behind each cell is an impact sensor
    and a processor equipped with algorithms that allow it to communicate
    only with its immediate neighbours. Just as ants secrete pheromones to
    help guide other ants to food, the CSIRO algorithms leave digital
    messages in cells around the system, indicating for instance the
    position of the boundary around a damaged region. The cell's processor
    can use this information to route data around the affected area.

    The team hopes to refine the system so it can distinguish between
    different types of damage, such as corrosion and sudden impacts, which
    might require a rapid repair job. Other groups are developing impact
    sensor systems controlled by a centralised processor. But such systems
    would fail if the area containing the processor were damaged. So a
    distributed system could be much more reliable, says Bill Prosser of
    NASA's Nondestructive Evaluation Sciences Branch in Langley, Virginia.

    NASA's ultimate aim is to create what it calls Ageless Aerospace
    Vehicles, which can detect, diagnose and fix damage (Robotics and
    Autonomous Systems, DOI: 10.1016/j.robot.2005.06.003).

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      * [14]CSIRO
      * [15]http://www.csiro.au/
      * [16]NASA
      * [17]http://www.nasa.gov/home/index.html?skipIntro=1
      * [18]Nondestructive Evaluation Sciences, NASA
      * [19]http://nesb.larc.nasa.gov/

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