NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Virtual Exploration
PROPOSAL TITLE:Simulation-Based Lunar Telerobotics Design, Acquisition and Training Platform for Virtual Exploration

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
DigitalSpace Corporation
343 Soquel Avenue, Suite 70
Santa Cruz ,CA 95062 - 2305
(831) 338 - 9400

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Bruce F Damer
343 Soquel Avenue, Suite 70
Santa Cruz, CA  95062 -2305
(831) 338 - 9400

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Meeting the objectives of returning to the moon by 2020 will require NASA to fly a series of telerobotic lunar orbital and surface vehicles to prove the viability of In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) and assist in precursor human base preparation. A real-time 3D tool that creates plausible simulations of space environments and vehicles can bring an urgently needed rapid prototyping capability to this large vehicle & mission design task.

Digital Spaces Prototyper (DSS-Prototyper) will allow teams to rapidly prototype vehicle and mission designs week-to-week and tie real-time 3D simulations to teams meetings, teleconferences, web documents, CAD databases and other decision support tools. In Phase I, DigitalSpace modeled Colorado School of Mines' prototype lunar bucket wheel excavator (BWE) to create a plausible design simulation of a lunar surface vehicle. The BWE was chosen as it is one of the only lunar ISRU-oriented prototypes in the world. Phase I features implemented in DSS-Prototyper include:
- Dynamics of a rover operating within a hypothetical lunar base.
- Force feedback joystick interface creating fine operator controls.
- Integrated physics engine creating vehicle/terrain contact models and an approximation of regolith properties.
- Auto-stereo display supporting 3D immersion.

Phase II features:
- Fully synchronized multi-use interface supporting team simulation viewing, recording and playback of simulation sequences.
- A component wrapper and open framework to connect with Windchill, ICE, Nexiom, NASA and contractor design tools.
- Annotation features associating CAD and simulation to text, documents and an asynchronous web site blog for team commentary.
- A half dozen lunar vehicle and mission scenario designs for sharing and iteration by a team of world-class advisors and evaluators.
- Delivery of DSS-Prototyper to NASA in an open source package for use by any team implementing new exploration vision.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
NASA applications enabled by DSS-Prototyper, a collaborative real-time 3D rapid prototype platform, include:

1. Design simulation of teleoperated surface robotic vehicles for missions to the moon and Mars for exploration, site preparation and In-Situ Resource Utilization.
2. Concept development for teleoperated robotics for servicing for ISS, orbiting scientific observatories (Hubble) and long duration Crew Exploration Vehicle IVA and EVA tasks.
3. Simulation of astronauts and robotic agents within spacecraft or in surface facilities.
4. Telerobotics training for all classes of remote manipulator systems.
5. Training and daily mission operations using virtual environments as a tool.
6. General purpose applications in integrated modeling & simulation.
7. Education and public outreach to communicate the next exploration vision though multi player online games.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Any remotely controlled vehicle in mining, construction, security, hazardous waste handling, military operations and other commercial applications requires high fidelity virtual environments for development of viable vehicle designs, interaction scenarios, and eventually for the training of operators and day to day operations. The needs for teleoperations in the terrestrial mining, construction and manufacturing industries alone could create a multi-billion dollar annual business. We have identified the following applications in design simulation that could be served by the platform:

1. Collaborative engineering of automated excavating, drilling and hauling equipment for deep mining where heat and hazards make ore extraction costly or prohibitive.
2. The design of automated construction systems including cranes and assemblers.
3. Defense and security applications in the design, training and operations for teleoperated vehicles in the battlefield or for facilities surveillance.
4. Planning and training for emergency first responder hazardous area robotics.
5. Industrial design, training and operations applications for robotically-equipped factories.
6. Software games in the "robot wars" genre and for education/outreach in space and engineering education.

Form Printed on 08-01-05 13:52