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NASA's Project M: One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Robotkind

Do androids dream of lunar landings? NASA seems to think so. Its Project M would send robotic avatars to the moon in place of flesh-and-blood astronauts. These robots would be controlled by scientists on Earth wearing motion capture suits, thereby allowing researchers to study the lunar surface nearly in real time. (A three-second communications delay exists between Earth and the moon.)

The project is being developed at Johnson Space Center, NASA's primary research and astronaut training facility. If financing is approved, NASA claims the first robotic pioneer could be placed on the moon within 1,000 days. The expense of the mission would be less than a manned one; robots clearly don't need the costly life support that a human being does. Also, because manned space flight is fraught with danger, and is sometimes deadly, remotely controlled droids prevent any human casualties.

Yet, that doesn't mean no humanity is involved. As illustrated in the video below, the 'bots -- with their controllers' personalities -- will "see us" on Earth, apparently complete with swelling, James Horner-like orchestral accompaniment included.

A robot doing the moon walk may not be as inspiring a display as a human being standing upon the lunar surface, but if space exploration is to be continued -- and we think it should be -- then this may be the smartest way to go. If all goes well, the robots of project M may be shaking hands with little green men any day now. [From: Dvice, via: Gizmodo]

Tags: moon, NASA, robot, space, top