NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 X5.02-9853
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Virtual Exploration
PROPOSAL TITLE: Simulation-Based Lunar Telerobotics Design, Acquisition and Training Platform for Virtual Exploration

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
DigitalSpace Corporation
343 Soquel Avenue, Suite 70
Santa Cruz, CA 95062-2305

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Bruce Damer
343 Soquel Avenue, Suite 70
Santa Cruz, CA 95062-2305

This Phase I proposal will develop a virtual test fixture performing a high caliber 3D dynamic reproduction of an prototype lunar bucket wheel excavator prototype developed at the Colorado School of Mines. This virtual test fixture will support an experimental telerobotics interface through a visual virtual environment built by DigitalSpace and a haptic force feedback interface integrated by DigitalSpace from Stanford University's Spring system. From NASA's Ames Research Center we will employ the Brahms agent technology and SimStation Procedures Module CAD representation and interaction also developed at ARC in collaboration with NASA JSC and Raytheon.

Testing of this telerobotics interface will refine its accuracy vis a vis the physical excavator and its behavior and provide a platform able to evolve to higher Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) to support NASA's new exploration vision of a human return to the moon within twenty years.

NASA applications enabled by a virtual environment multi-modal telerobotics simulator include:
1. Teleoperated surface operations on the Moon, Mars for exploration, site preparation and In-Situ Resource Utilization (shielding, materials, fuel and water extraction).
2. Teleoperated servicing for ISS, orbiting scientific observatories (Hubble) and long duration Crew Exploration Vehicles (CEV).
3. Teleoperated robotics for IVA (such as ISS/PSA)
4. Teleoperation for enhanced utility and safety for launch facilities.
5. Telerobotics training for all classes of remote manipulator systems.
6. Design and prototyping of other types of vehicles through the use of simulation-based design and acquisition.

Any remotely controlled vehicle in mining, constructions, hazardous waste handling, military operations and other commercial applications requires high fidelity virtual
environments for development of viable interaction scenarios, training of operators and day to day production. The needs for teleoperations in the terrestrial mining, construction and manufacturing industries alone could create a multi-billion dollar annual business. Additional commercial applications include:
1. Online games in the "robot wars" genre
2. Defense design, training and operations applications for teleoperated vehicles
3. Industrial design, training and operations applications
4. Emergency first responder hazardous area robotics