Autonomy::autonomy    Moral::their    Would::system    Which::person    Command::concept    Social::ground

Robotics {{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$N=Rewrite section |date=__DATE__ |$B= {{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$N=Cleanup-rewrite |date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Message box|ambox}} }} }} Autonomy or Autonomous behavior is a contentious term in reference to unmanned vehicles due to the poor understanding of whether something acting without outside commands is doing so through its own ability to make decisions or through a method of decision making pre-programmed into it. It is a quality which is rather abstract in nature and rather difficult to measure. The word is used only in an analogical sense at this point, and the analogical application carries very little of the primary content, which refers to moral choices of rational beings.

Automatic means that a system will do exactly as programmed, it has no choice. Autonomous means that a system has a choice to make free of outside influence, i.e., an autonomous system has free will.

An example of semi-autonomous vehicles is unmanned spacecraft. Autonomy is an increasing feature of unmanned vehicles with two objectives

  • Mandatory for new functions:
e.g. several spacecraft in formation flight adjust their relative positions so that interferometric measurements with wide basis can be performed
  • Cost reduction:
e.g. failure detection and recovery by spacecraft system without ground station involvement reduces Up-/Downlink usage and reduces operational costs on ground.

An Autonomous Space Craft might make certain decisions for itself based on imagery observation and a pre-programmed algorithm that will determine the only possible logical outcome and then perform that task without having to ask controllers NAND NOR AND types of parameters. Autonomy in Space does not relate to the socio-political definitions, here we are talking about a device that can make basic or convoluted decisions based on LOGIC (in an electronic usage) - see X37b Military Space Plane for an example

To have true Autonomy however a device (or entity) would need to have a longer leash being able to complete complex missions without human intra direction. Such a system would say further automate the other elements of the total process making the whole of the "system" larger by including more devices that multicommunicate with each other without involving ground based technicians or communications. (the military might not want to send possibly interceptable signals to and from said same)

For example: If they automated the ground based tracking and control sending and or included additional satellites and/or space planes OR other devices (autonomous air and seacraft) the X37b Missions could someday become totally Autonomous.

  • Basically: Send it on a mission and recover it when it lands.
  • Obviously Autonomy here too has its authority hierarchy whereby command override

is in effect. If the ground controllers want to they can take control of the space craft at any time. A typical mission though will be preprogrammed and perform as directed and land.. OR perform a task WHILE and/or UNTIL (in a software sense) a condition is met (say a signal sent from the ground) IF/THEN Land the Un-Manned SpaceCraft without further direction from the ground. The systems so happen to interact but that is not a necessary condition for autonomy. As each device becomes more and more autonomous the total network becomes more and more intelligent and at the same time secure

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