Agents of Exploration and Discovery
Autonomous agents have many applications in familiar situations, but they also have great potential to help us understand novel settings. In this paper, I propose a new challenge for the AI research community: developing embodied systems that not only explore new environments but also characterize them in scientific terms. Illustrative examples include autonomous rovers on planetary surfaces and unmanned vehicles on undersea missions. I review two relevant paradigms: robotic agents that explore unknown areas and computational systems that discover scientific models. In each case, I specify the problem, identify component functions, describe current abilities, and note remaining limitations. Finally, I discuss obstacles that the community must overcome before it can develop integrated agents of exploration and discovery.
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