Purdue Univ researchers have constructed a robotic navigation system that utilizes predictive mapping to chart the environment of unknown areas. The robots create “mental maps” of unseen regions based on observed patterns recognized in previously-charted territory. Simulations have shown successful navigation while exploring as little as 33% of an environment.
This system seems well-suited for Grand Challenge driverless vehicle applications, which in the past have mostly relied on interpretation of real-time sensor telemetry. If this predictive mental mapping could be expanded beyond environmental navigation to contextual awareness in general, building abstract mental models of ideas and concepts, it could be another step on the path towards artificial consciousnesss.