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ASK OCE — June 21, 2007 — Vol. 2, Issue 4

A satellite that can repair itself in low-Earth orbit. Intelligent machines and systems that can “mind meld” with one another. Researchers at Ames Research Center, in collaboration with M2Mi Corporation, have signed a partnership agreement to develop a machine-to-machine (M2M) intelligence system that would be tailored to space missions.

An M2M system would enable machines to make intelligent choices, execute self-guided adjustments, and communicate with one another, all without human intervention, in a way that they presently cannot. As envisioned, an M2M intelligence system will work with a broad spectrum of machines, from wireless tools and sensors to robots, spacecraft, and computer grid systems. The goal is nothing short of machine self-dependency.

To achieve this goal, automated M2M intelligence uses a standardized semantic web communication format that allows all machines to exchange information in a universal language. Currently, the cost of machine management is quite expensive and time-intensive. In the case of NASA, having the Space Shuttle’s vast array of different computers communicate effectively is an extremely complex task. An effective M2M system could make that technically complex task relatively economical and seamless.

Beyond machine-to-machine communication, M2M will enable machines to analyze their environments, anticipate events, and make adjustments and decisions in real time without the need for human involvement. In addition to space applications, M2M systems can provide commercial enterprise software that will streamline the systems and functionality of an automated factory or production line.

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