Fleet of robots could build human colony on the Moon and ‘talk to each other’

Building on the Moon has moved a step closer thanks to boffins who have developed a fleet of bizarre three-legged robots to get the job done.

The land and airborne machines have been designed to mine and excavate as well as build on the Moon – and soon they might even be able to talk to their “teammates”.

Earth's satellite is packed full of useful resources that brainiacs reckon could help humans set up a colony on Earth’s satellite.

READ MORE: Huge heat blob coming from mysterious far side of moon causes concern to scientists

Some experts reckon that the day when we can live in space – on either the Moon or Mars – isn’t too far away.

But any colony would have to be self-sufficient as there’s unlikely to be a local builders’ merchant nearby.

The three-legged robots, which have been developed by a Swiss team of scientists and have been dubbed “ANYmals”, are equipped with instruments that would potentially make them suitable future exploration devices.

Two of the robots were programmed as specialists. One was taught to be particularly good at mapping terrain and classifying geology while the other was taught to precisely identify rocks.

A third was a generalist and was able to both map the terrain and identify rocks.

Lead author Philip Arm, a doctoral student at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, said: "Using multiple robots has two advantages.

"The individual robots can take on specialised tasks and perform them simultaneously. Moreover, thanks to its redundancy, a robot team is able to compensate for a teammate’s failure.

“This makes it possible to complete the mission should any one of the robots malfunction."

The researchers also plan to make the robots more autonomous. At the moment, all the data picked up by the robots is sent to a control centre, and a human operator assigns tasks to each robot.

But in the future, the robots could use AI to directly assign certain tasks to each other – although the human operator would still be able to intervene and over-ride them.

The ANYmals project has been outlined in the journal Science Robotics.

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