NASA SBIR 2008 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 08-2 O1.09-9103
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Software for Space Communications Infrastructure Operations
PROPOSAL TITLE: Intelligent Agents for Scheduling Space Communications

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Traclabs, Inc.
100 N.E. Loop 410 Suite 520
San Antonio, TX 78216 - 4727
(281) 461-7886

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Russell Bonasso
8620 N. New Braunfels, Suite 603
San Antonio, TX 78217 - 4727
(281) 461-7884

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 4 to 5

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The new exploration initiative, and the planned new antenna types to be developed in support of that initiative will increase the number and complexity of missions to be supported by the NASA Space Communications infrastructure. In a new concept, the communications architecture will evolve from the present centralized system to one where user/missions will be given direct control of communication schedules, allowing them to directly change requests, while working with other user/missions to solve scheduling conflicts in a collegial environment. A radically new user interface paradigm will be needed to support this new approach. It is our contention that such an interface is best designed using intelligent agent technologies, resulting in an intelligent space communications scheduling agent for each user/mission. In Phase 1 we demonstrated the feasibility of using the Distributed, Collaboration and Interaction (DCI) intelligent agent software to support key activities of user schedule representatives of the Deep Space Network (DSN). These agents used models of mission preferences for preparing requests and posting notifications, and took actions on the part of the user to resolve schedule conflicts and take advantage of unexpected asset availability. In Phase 2 we will extend our prototype agents to support the full range of user scheduling activities, to add capabilities to support multi-user conflict management and to design them to integrate with DSN Service Scheduling Software as it evolves to support user/missions. We will also investigate the potential of using software agents to support the space and ground networks.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Scheduling is a primary enterprise at NASA and the new exploration initiative will only increase the need for efficient interactive scheduling. Besides space communications, we also see potential applications to assist geographically distributed users to schedule time on NASA's orbital and ground based telescopes. Mission planning is at the core of all space missions due to the high cost of space assets such as astronauts, equipment and communication links. Our new agent services, connected with planning engines, will have applications across many NASA programs, from Mission Control to on-board NASA vehicles and outposts, especially for EVA planning. With the new exploration initiative, EVA mission planning and scheduling will increase dramatically from an EVA every few months to one or two a day, and that will increase the need to integrate science and exploration training tasks into a coherent EVA plan/schedule. We also expect applications of our technology to immediately impact NASA's Exploration Technology Development Program (ETDP), in particular, the Automation for Operations (A4O) managed at NASA ARC, which is investigating automated planning and scheduling to enhance spacecraft operations.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
he military has a number of arenas wherein tasks are requested of limited availability assets. Examples are the Air Force Satellite Control Network (FSCN) and the defense intelligence use of high altitude aircraft and special operations surveillance assets. The needs of the user/missions of these assets are similar and would benefit from the application of our enhanced DCI technology. The military is also currently a large customer for unmanned vehicle operations. Unmanned vehicles, both air and ground, are becoming more and more common in battlefield situations. As these unmanned vehicles are increasingly deployed in tandem with dismounted forces, coordinating software will be necessary to ensure successful operations. In particular, unmanned surveillance vehicles, are becoming more and more common in battlefield situations as evidenced in Iraq and Afghanistan. As these unmanned vehicles are increasingly deployed, scheduling their use by an increasing number of users will require the kind of distributed agent systems described in this proposal. Mission planning will also play a large role in integrated manned and unmanned operations. Distributed planning and control systems will serve to better merge competing user needs to accomplish military missions. Finally, non-military applications include distributed scheduling of aircraft in municipal airports, trains and other transportation systems, as well as factory production lines.

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.

Architectures and Networks
Autonomous Control and Monitoring
Autonomous Reasoning/Artificial Intelligence
Database Development and Interfacing
Human-Computer Interfaces

Form Generated on 08-03-09 13:26