The Cyborg Astrobiologist: Testing a Novelty-Detection Algorithm on Two Mobile Exploration Systems at Rivas Vaciamadrid in Spain and at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah

10/28/2009 ∙ by P. C. McGuire, et al. ∙ 0

(ABRIDGED) In previous work, two platforms have been developed for testing computer-vision algorithms for robotic planetary exploration (McGuire et al. 2004b,2005; Bartolo et al. 2007). The wearable-computer platform has been tested at geological and astrobiological field sites in Spain (Rivas Vaciamadrid and Riba de Santiuste), and the phone-camera has been tested at a geological field site in Malta. In this work, we (i) apply a Hopfield neural-network algorithm for novelty detection based upon color, (ii) integrate a field-capable digital microscope on the wearable computer platform, (iii) test this novelty detection with the digital microscope at Rivas Vaciamadrid, (iv) develop a Bluetooth communication mode for the phone-camera platform, in order to allow access to a mobile processing computer at the field sites, and (v) test the novelty detection on the Bluetooth-enabled phone-camera connected to a netbook computer at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah. This systems engineering and field testing have together allowed us to develop a real-time computer-vision system that is capable, for example, of identifying lichens as novel within a series of images acquired in semi-arid desert environments. We acquired sequences of images of geologic outcrops in Utah and Spain consisting of various rock types and colors to test this algorithm. The algorithm robustly recognized previously-observed units by their color, while requiring only a single image or a few images to learn colors as familiar, demonstrating its fast learning capability.

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