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John Bluck
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Phone: (650) 604-5026 / 9000

July 12, 2006
NASA Tests Artificial Intelligence Control for Mars Drill
Reporters are invited to observe a NASA Mars prototype drill, controlled by artificial intelligence, bore into a crater in the Canadian arctic. This is the first time artificial intelligence will have completely controlled a drill rig.

Drilling Automation for the Mars Exploration (DAME) Project's field exercise is being held at the Haughton Crater on Devon Island in Canada's Nunavut Territory north of Ontario and Quebec. The main objective of the exercise is to evaluate the automation software.

An eight-person team, made up of scientists and engineers from NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., will set up drilling equipment. Earth-based experiments will help scientists learn if synthetic brainpower is able to control a rig on Mars for many hours of drilling without human intervention. Future Mars missions with drills will likely have the ability to communicate with Earth only once or twice a day.

Reporters are invited to visit the test location from July 14 to July 29, 2006, with a final demonstration planned for July 27 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. CDT. Media representatives need bring their own tents and sleeping bags and must travel at their own expense.

Reporters who are unable to attend the experiment because of its remote location may ask the science team questions via e-mail, which will be answered on a first-come, first-served basis: or

In addition, live Webcam Internet video links from the drill site during the July 27 demonstration are being planned. For additional information, please contact Brian Glass, principal investigator from Ames, at:

The DAME project is sponsored by the Mars Instrument Development Project, part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. For more information about this project visit:

To read a feature story about the DAME Project, please visit:

Publication-size images and an on-line video are available on the World Wide Web at:


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