NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 X6.03-7903
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Atmospheric Maneuver and Precision Landing
PROPOSAL TITLE: LandingNav: Terrain Guided Automated Precision Landing

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
StarVision Technologies, Inc.
1700 Research Parkway Suite 170
College Station, TX 77845-2304

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
James Ochoa
1700 Research Parkway Suite 170
College Station, TX 77845-2304

The purpose of the proposed effort is to provide a novel and innovative precision landing sensor (LandingNav) for Mars. LandingNav supports space exploration by significantly enhancing real-time landmark recognition and navigation capabilities, thus substantially improving the Mars landing accuracy. The LandingNav system integrates two novel technologies. The first is a unique feature detection method based on edge detection and the Hough transform coupled with motion stereo and stereo correlation. The second is a novel multi-resolution learning algorithm for highly efficient terrain mapping. Together these innovations enable high-fidelity system-level landmark navigation solutions for the precision landing problem. This technology has a broad operational range and can be used for high-altitude navigation as well as terminal navigation (i.e., landing hazards avoidance). This proposal focuses on demonstrating, through analysis, simulation, and design, the applicability and feasibility of this particular terrain navigation technology for space exploration. Successful completion of the proposed Phase I effort will permit a Phase II effort to produce a functional prototype to demonstrate the increased landing precision and feature detection performance.

The LandingNav system may be used for autonomous redeployment of a sensor network for large scale environmental monitoring, as well as command and control in emergency situations. Mobility in sensor network can be used to maintain and repair connectivity between the network nodes, redeploying the sensors, or if static sensors are used, a reduced number of mobile sensors can be used as emergency unit to re-establish connectivity when a static node fails.

Commercial applications for the proposed system might be very wide and include applicability to problems of robotics, machine vision and autonomous navigation of UAV.

The SVU could be readily applied with little or no modifications for solving Simultaneous Location And Mapping (SLAM) problems. The MNU can be used for mapping and reconnaissance problems.

For military applications such technology might be applied to tactical reconnaissance on the battlefield and adapted to target a different set of objects on the terrain, such as trucks, tanks or buildings.