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Three NASA-developed autonomous rovers will elect a “leader” to hand out assignments in a mission to map out the lunar surface without human intervention. These mini-bots (each the size of a carry-on bag) will have a mission that could have a big impact on the way humans explore space.

NASA reportedly wants to see whether the three robots can cooperate with one another while on the Moon without direct input from the mission controllers on Earth. The space agency said that the goal of this “teamwork-minded” experiment is to see if robots can boost the efficiency of future missions by operating autonomously.

The project is called CADRE – Cooperative Autonomous Distributed Robotic Exploration, and the robots will be tasked with mapping out the Moon’s Reiner Gamma region in 3D.

According to Cybernews, the robots are expected to land on the Moon in 2024. They will then find a sunny spot and use their solar panels to charge up before electing a “leader” to distribute work assignments. While all three robots will have a common collective goal, each one will individually approach how best to safely complete each assigned task.

Jean-Pierre de la Croix, principal investigator of the CADRE project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said about the project: “You only tell them the high-level goal, and they have to determine how to accomplish it.”

“The only instruction is, for example, ‘Go explore this region,’ and the rovers figure out everything else: when they’ll do the driving, what path they’ll take, how they’ll maneuver around local hazards,” de la Croix said.

This exciting mission will last a full lunar day, meaning approximately 14 Earth days, and NASA hopes it could help establish new ways to do science and support the astronauts.

CADRE project manager Subha Comandur said that their mission is to demonstrate that a network of mobile robots can autonomously cooperate to accomplish a task without human intervention, and added- “It could change how we do exploration in the future. The question for future missions will become: ‘How many rovers do we send, and what will they do together?’”