NASA SBIR 2009 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 09-1 X13.02-9273
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Situational Awareness for Multi-Agent Operations
PROPOSAL TITLE: Software Agents for Group Awareness and Inter-agent Conflict Management

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
TRACLabs Inc.
8610 N. New Braunfels, Suite 110
San Antonio, TX 78217 - 6370
(210) 822-2310

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Debra Schreckenghost
8610 N. New Braunfels, Suite 110
San Antonio, TX 78217 - 6370
(281) 461-7884

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 3

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
NASA is investigating robots for a variety of tasks in space, including astronaut transport, habitat construction, site survey, and robotic reconnaissance. These robots may be supervised locally by astronauts or remotely by Earth-based controllers. Thus surface operations are expected to be multi-agent, with heterogeneous robots operating concurrently and supervised from remote locations subject to different communication delays. Technologies are needed to help humans understand how multi-agent operations are proceeding and to detect inter-agent conflicts before they impact operations significantly. TRACLabs will develop assistive software agents that monitor human-robot interaction and communication during multi-agent operations (1) to construct an integrated view of agent operations in the presence of significant time delay and (2) to detect inter-agent conflicts that may affect the ability to complete operations. To assess the effectiveness of these assistive agents, Omnisen will develop evaluator software agents that model work practice during multi-agent operations. These evaluator agents will stand in for humans using the assistive agents in representative scenarios to assess the effectiveness of the assistive agents and identify best work practice when using them. The extensive experience of this team in software agents, remote supervision of robots, and human-computer interaction enables the successful development of the proposed technology.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
NASA conducts analog robotic field tests to evaluate new robotic technology and to simulate remote robotic operations. The Exploration Program typically conducts annual field tests, such as the recent tests at Black Point Lava Flow, AZ, in 2009. The proposed assistive agent technology would have direct application to such field tests, including the algorithms for situation awareness in the presence of communication delay. The results of investigating the detection of plan and safety threats are needed for remote ground control. The integration of assistive agents with evaluator agents will support assessing planned work practice for these field tests (in the form of operations protocols) as well as evaluating observed work practice during the field test. At the end of Phase II the integrated agent architecture would provide a testbed for studying future multi-agent operations at NASA as well as a prototype of situation awareness technology for such operations.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The United States Department of Defense (DOD) is making significant investment in military robotics, including unmanned air vehicles (UAV) and ground vehicles (UAG). This includes both improved robotic hardware and instrumentation, and software for supervising robotic operations. Similar to NASA, military robotic operations often are remote and, though not subject to the significant communication delays encountered in space, they are affected by communication quality and availability issues. Thus remote supervision of military robots should benefit from the proposed technology for improved group awareness of multiple robots and detection of conflicts among concurrent robotic operations. Additionally the proposed approach integrating assistive agents with evaluator agents has potential as a testbed for simulating hybrid multi-agent operations for the military.

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-Robotic Interfaces
Integrated Robotic Concepts and Systems

Form Generated on 09-18-09 10:14