NASA SBIR 2006 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Surface Handling and Mobility, Transportation, and Operations Equipment (Lunar or Mars)
PROPOSAL TITLE:Lunar All-Terrain Utility Vehicle for EVA

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
ProtoInnovations, LLC
1908 Shaw Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15217-1710
(412) 916-8807

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Stuart   Heys
1908 Shaw Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA  15217-1710
(773) 412-3081

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT ( Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
ProtoInnovations, LLC proposes to develop a new type of planetary rover called a Lunar All-terrain Utility Vehicle ("Lunar ATV") to assist extra-vehicular activities in future lunar missions. The vehicle will operate unmanned or with an astronaut driving onboard. It will have a roughly 4 m2 footprint and be able to about twice as fast as an astronaut can walk on the Moon. The vehicle will feature four-wheel, all-terrain mobility with traction control. A multi-purpose tool interface and interchangeable cargo bays will support a variety of mission payloads. The Lunar ATV will be used for mission such as site preparation, emplacing beacons, equipment and commodity distribution, and sampling. It will also be useful for human/robot interaction experiments taking place at NASA research centers.

The primary innovations of this effort are:

? A high-efficiency, long-life, lunar-relevant traction drive system
? A simplified steer / suspension chassis built for speeds over 1 m/s without sacrificing weight or maneuverability
? A multi-purpose tool interface for earthmoving, sampling, emplacing, etc.
? Traction control software to maximize performance in earthmoving and negotiating rough terrain
? CLARAty-compatible vehicle and tool interfaces to leverage NASA-developed teleoperation and autonomy software

ProtoInnovations brings an impressive amount of experience to the task of designing the Lunar ATV. Working at Carnegie Mellon University, members of our team have developed robots to operate in some of the harshest environments on Earth: surveying Antarctic ice fields, traversing the Atacama Desert, exploring into an Alaskan volcano and mapping Chernobyl. In total, our robots have traveled roughly 500 km through some of the most difficult terrain on Earth. We've accomplished these tasks by building robots that are, above all else, controllable and reliable. Our team has experience building all of the subsystems involved in this project.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
ProtoInnovations will vigorously push our Lunar ATV technology into NASA's manned and unmanned lunar exploration program. This will require close interaction with the customer. We will foster this by making the vehicle available for testing wherever possible. With our rapid and iterative approach to development and the flexible design of the Lunar ATV, we will adapt as NASA's lunar exploration program continues.

The Lunar ATV also represents a new class of space robotics research rover: larger, faster, and more capable than K9 and K10 with a high payload capacity. Its ability to be driven by an astronaut opens up new types of EVA simulations. We hope that adoption of the Lunar ATV by NASA will provide ProtoInnovations with a sustainable R&D effort until the Lunar ATV design gains a high TRL level and is infused into the lunar exploration program.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Commercially, work on unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) is often directed towards the defense market. Our work on traction control has applicability to UGVs that use electric drive motors, including defense products such as iRobot's PackBot and Foster-Miller's TALON. Members of our team have worked as subcontractors to Foster-Miller, so we plan to pursue business development opportunities with this prominent defense robotics manufacturer.

Our traction drive design will also benefit terrestrial UGVs operating at speeds of several meters per second. It will consume power more efficiently and feature a longer operating life than traditional high-speed motors coupled with harmonic drives.

A multi-purpose tool interface for UGVs will also be useful to the hazmat robots and UGVs that handle explosives. We will pursue R&D opportunities from the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and DARPA to adapt our lunar-relevant design to terrestrial applications.

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.

Integrated Robotic Concepts and Systems
Manned-Manuvering Units

Form Printed on 09-08-06 18:19