Ann, thanks for pointing out that thye links had additional useful information. Unfortunately for me, I guess, is that I seldom follow links placed in articles, partly because some of those links have been quite slow in the past.
William, there's more detail about what the researchers are doing, and plan to do, in the links we gave in the article, including a list of references at the end of the AI project article There's also a list of publications by the Advanced Concepts Team here: http://www.esa.int/gsp/ACT/publications/index.htm
Cabe, if you're responding to my comment, "that didn't take much motivation," I meant that people who have already invested $300 in the AR.Drone--not small change if you ask me--therefore don't need much motivation to use it in this crowdsourcing app. You had said that getting people to participate might be problematic, especially if they weren't paid. But dedicated gamers like these don't need an excuse to play.
It seems that somehow the data created as various folks attempt to dock at a simulated space station is somehow going to be useful. Right??? But the game will certainly obtain lots of data, for sure. But the main value of data is created when it is condensed into knowledge, and the value of knowledge is that it can lead to insight and understanding. Exactly how that happens in this situation is not completely clear to me just yet.
Relying on "crowdsourcing" is not a fast moving option. Depending if people are paid or not, work takes a while to push through. People either have to absolutely love the product or company or get paid to help a product along...
Or in the immortal word of one Internet meme "Ain't nobody got time for that!"
Chuck, I understand the fear. I've read a ton of science fiction since age 11, so I probably have some of the same worries you do about the Robot Takeover and the War with the Machines (oops, wrong universe). At least I'll probably be long gone if that happens.
The main point of crowdsourcing is big numbers, so lots of data. In this case, ESA has designed the app to motivate players to do an excellent job, thus providing the type of data they want, i.e., what are the best ways to approach Object A reliably with millions of copies of Object B, in turn learning methods that can be taught to other robots.
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