NASA STTR 2009 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 09-2 T1.02-9872
RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE: Information Technologies for Intelligent Planetary Robotics
PROPOSAL TITLE: Reliable Autonomous Surface Mobility (RASM) in Support of Human Exploration

NAME: ProtoInnovations, LLC NAME: Carnegie Mellon University
STREET: 1908 Shaw Avenue STREET: 5000 Forbes Ave
CITY: Pittsburgh CITY: Pittsburgh
STATE/ZIP: PA  15217 - 1710 STATE/ZIP: PA  15213 - 3890
PHONE: (412) 916-8807 PHONE: (412) 268-5421

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
David S Wettergreen
5000 Forbes Ave, NSH 2113
Pittsburgh, PA 15213 - 2890
(412) 268-5421

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 5
End: 6

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
ProtoInnovations, LLC and Carnegie Mellon University have formed a partnership to commercially develop rover-autonomy technologies into Reliable Autonomous Surface Mobility (RASM). Our aim is to provide safe and reliable means for lunar rovers to travel at substantial speeds and operate in proximity to astronauts and other vehicles. Our unique partnership brings together state-of-art technologies for autonomous rover navigation with experience in delivering and supporting mobility systems for NASA.

The RASM project will create an autonomy framework that is capable of supporting off-road vehicle speeds beyond 3 m/s with planetary-relevant constraints including a lack of infrastructure (such as GPS) and limited communication and computing resources.

Our RASM framework is based on environment modeling, obstacle avoidance, path planning, and localization algorithms developed by Carnegie Mellon and proven by hundreds of kilometers of traverse in planetary analog landscapes on Earth.

On the RASM project we will mature and package these algorithms in a reliable and portable software architecture that supports a variety of vehicle platforms, sensors, and middleware alternatives. Unique to RASM will be a failure-modes analysis of the autonomy system to model and mitigate hazards posed by operating alongside astronauts and lunar vehicles.

Mission constraints and operating scenarios will vary broadly, so RASM will be adaptable. We will develop abstraction layers to enable portability across various vehicle chassis configurations, perception sensors, localization sensors, and communications protocols. In Phase 2 of the project, we will implement the portable architecture developed in Phase 1 and demonstrate its capability on KREX or LATUV vehicles developed by ProtoInnovations.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The technical innovations advanced by this project will have immediate application on the KREX vehicle used by NASA Ames' Intelligent Robotics Group, enabling it to achieve its full capability as a research appliance for NASA. We also see direct applicability of this work to other planetary
rovers developed by NASA as part of the research and development program in surface systems. ProtoInnovations will seek to sustain this work by developing portable software for rover navigational autonomy that can be adapted and applied to a wide range of planetary vehicles.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The Canadian Space Agency has announced that it will perform intensive research in lunar rovers with plans to produce multiple concept vehicles in the next one to two years. ProtoInnovations will aggressively pursue this market and apply its expertise in autonomy and navigation to CSA rovers. We are currently negotiating with Canadian aerospace corporations regarding licensing of navigation and mobility technology.

We also believe that our effort can be sustained by our unique capability and experience which we believe is valuable to emerging lunar rover activities in China, Japan, and India/Russia. The market for lunar rover autonomy is not large but it is highly technical and critical to success in lunar missions. ProtoInnovations intends to continue research and development and position itself as a leader in rover navigation software and experience.

ProtoInnovations is prepared to approach large manufacturers who represent potential consumers of RASM: from automotive companies building the cars of the future, to mines that can prevent accidents with obstacle-avoidance.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (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

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