NASA STTR 2010 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 10-1 T1.02-9882
RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE: Information Technologies for Intelligent Planetary Robotics
PROPOSAL TITLE: Building and Executing Rover Plans with Contingent Tasks

NAME: TRACLabs, Inc. NAME: Carnegie Mellon University - Silicon Valley
STREET: 100 N.E. Loop 410, Suite 520 STREET: NASA Research Park, Bldg 23
CITY: San Antonio CITY: Moffett Field
STATE/ZIP: TX  78216 - 6363 STATE/ZIP: CA  94305 - 2823
PHONE: (281) 461-7884 PHONE: (650) 335-2823

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Debra Schreckenghost
100 N.E. Loop 410, Suite 520
San Antonio, TX 78216 - 6363
(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)
During recent robotic field tests, NASA investigated the use of intelligent planetary rovers to improve the productivity of human explorers on planetary surfaces. For these field tests, a remote Science Team built rover plans to collect data that supplements astronaut EVA and a remote Flight Team supervised the execution of these plans. This model of operation requires the Science Team to generate and revise all plans, often taking a partially executed plan and quickly updating it in response to issues that may have nothing to do with science. As a result the Science Team pre-builds alternative plans, many of which are not used. In future exploration operations, astronauts orbiting a planet will supervise rovers operating on the surface below without benefit of real-time support from Earth because of time delay. In such cases it becomes important to provide a more flexible planning approach that permits the Science Team to distinguish essential tasks from tasks to be performed as time and resource permit, or in response to discovery (contingent tasks). TRACLabs and Carnegie Mellon University propose to build science alternatives into a single rover plan as contingent tasks, potentially reducing the time spent building plans and providing the Flight Team with more flexibility when executing plans. We will identify use cases describing how the Science Team will build plans with contingent tasks and how the Flight Team will execute these plans. We will design software for use by the Science Team to build plans with contingent tasks. We will design rover software for executing such plans and software for the Flight Team to supervise this execution. We will evaluate this design for use in K10 rover operations.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The proposed technology for building and executing plans with contingent tasks has immediate application to NASA robotic field tests with intelligent rovers. The Science Team planning rover plan can express their priorities as minimum science requirements within the plan, with options for going beyond these minima as opportunity arises. The Flight Team responsible to execute these plans can adapt the plan by selecting among alternative tasks based on conditions and observations made during plan execution.

Longer term, the proposed project provides a technology pathfinder for exploration missions where astronauts must supervise intelligent planetary robots without the real-time backup from Earth that is possible for near-Earth missions. The use of plans with contingent tasks provides a means for the Earth-based planning team to express priorities in mission objectives and to predicate the decision about what tasks the rover performs on what the rover discovers. This approach gives astronauts flexibility to adapt the plan when opportunities or problems arise to maximize mission return.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The Department of Defense (DOD) is actively pursuing remote supervision of Unmanned Air/Ground Vehicles for surveillance and reconnaissance. The software for building and executing robot plans with contingent tasks combines reactivity with the predictability needed for such operations. The ability to perform contingent tasks based on what has been discovered by earlier tasks in the plan also is relevant to this domain.

In the private sector, electronic procedures and technology for procedure assistance provide a means of gradually deploying plant automation. The technology for building and executing contingent plans supports defining reactive plant automation that adjusts tasks in response to production performance. Plants that have telemetry and commanding is available electronically are the most likely to adopt this technology, such as 1) Refineries, (2) Petrochemical plants, (3) Power plants (nuclear, conventional), (4) Pharmaceutical plants, (5) Food processing plants, and (6) Ethanol plants.

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.)
Robotics (see also Control & Monitoring; Sensors)
Sequencing & Scheduling

Form Generated on 09-03-10 15:17