Roomba on the Moon?

Saturn’s moon, that is. The first intelligent beings we know of in space (besides us, if we count) may be the ones we make ourselves. If this New York Times article is to be believed, scientists basically want to attach a blimp to a Roomba and send it to one of Saturn’s moons. 


A future space mission to Titan, Saturn’s intriguing moon enveloped in clouds, might deploy a blimp to float around the thick atmosphere and survey the sand dunes and carved valleys below.

… Until recently, interplanetary robotic explorers have largely been marionettes of mission controllers back on Earth. The controllers sent instructions, and the spacecraft diligently executed them.

But as missions go farther and become more ambitious, long-distance puppetry becomes less and less practical. If dumb spacecraft will not work, the answer is to make them smarter. Artificial intelligence will increasingly give spacecraft the ability to think for themselves.

… HAL, the soulful conversationalist at the helm of the spaceship in "2001: A Space Odyssey," is not on the drawing board. The work so far has been more along the lines of Roomba, the robotic vacuum cleaner, with autonomy to perform certain specific tasks.

Interesting. Just about everybody his brother has hacked a Roomba and/or blogged it. I guess the AI techs at NASA will get their crack at doing the same.