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Robots in Cyberspace
07.14.2009 3:48 PM
Jeff Norris

By Jeff Norris
Supervisor, Planning Software Systems Group

My team develops operations software that’s used to control robots. We work with robots on the ground, in the air, in space, on other planets, and we’re even getting involved with a task that uses robotic boats to measure ocean quality. However, lately we’ve been getting excited about yet another domain for robotic operations: cyberspace.

Yes, there are robots in cyberspace, but people may not think of them that way. Robots in cyberspace are software agents, but like the more familiar kinds of robots they sense their environment, manipulate their surroundings, accept commands, and return telemetry. They are often mobile, moving from one network to another, and many have highly autonomous behavior. Cyberspace robots can be used to explore and gather information, protect important systems, or to wage war. I find that once you start to think of these software agents as robots, it’s remarkable how many of the principles and technologies that we apply to the operation of other robots transfer directly to this new domain. There are also a lot of challenging differences, and that’s part of what makes this new domain fun.

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