NASA SBIR 2006 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Human-System Interaction
PROPOSAL TITLE:A Software Framework for Coordinating Human-Robot Teams

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Traclabs, Inc.
8610 N. New Braunfels, Suite 110
San Antonio, TX 78217-2356
(210) 822-2310

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Debra L Schrechenghost
8610 N. New Braunfels, Suite 110
San Antonio, TX  78217-2356
(281) 461-9525

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT ( Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Robots are expected to fulfill an important role in manned exploration operations. They can reduce the risk of crew EVA and improve crew productivity on routine tasks. They can be supervised locally by astronauts or remotely by ground control. In a sense, robots will become members of the operational team. Just like human teams, these human-robot teams must exchange information, follow established protocols, and coordinate their activities to ensure that mission operations are safe and effective. Supporting such team operations requires infrastructure for human-robot interaction. TRACLabs proposes to develop a software framework that facilitates human-robot teaming, from team formation until completion of team operations. We will build on the existing Distributed Collaboration and Interaction (DCI) System, a software multi-agent system developed by TRACLabs to assist human-automation interaction. DCI provides a software agent for each human team member that delivers services supporting mission duties. An innovation of this project is providing DCI agents for robots as well as humans in the team. Another innovation is the use of human models to give robots insight into human behavior to improve interaction. Phase I will produce a software framework prototype for human-robot interaction and a framework design for implementation in Phase II.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Exploration missions will require that humans and robots work together. Robots will perform high risk tasks like EVA and routine or repetitive tasks to improve crew productivity. Introducing robots into manned space operations, however, will change the way these operations are conducted. It will introduce new supervisory tasks for crew and ground control, including maintaining awareness of robotic activities and handling problems the robot cannot resolve. The proposed human-robot interaction framework will enable effective human supervision of robots, both nearby and remotely. Such capability will first be needed for lunar surface operations and will be enabling for manned missions into deep space.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Unmanned air and ground vehicles are becoming more common in battlefield situations. Future Combat Systems envision manned and unmanned vehicles of all sizes working side-by-side. Additionally, Congress has mandated that one-third of all military vehicles must be unmanned by 2015. The military envisions robots and soldiers working side-by-side to accomplish missions, as well as remote operators supervising robot teams. Currently several operators control one autonomous vehicle. The proposed framework for human-robot interaction will help reverse this ratio.

Non-military markets include civilian SWAT teams, urban search and rescue and hostage situations. There are approximately 100 US cities with populations over 200,000 that could have use of a mobile robot for search and rescue, bomb disposal or hazardous materials handling. Often a single mobile robot will perform many different tasks. Operators will typically have less training and experience in using robots than military operators, thus support for effective human-robot interaction is essential.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

Autonomous Reasoning/Artificial Intelligence
Human-Computer Interfaces
Human-Robotic Interfaces

Form Printed on 09-08-06 18:19