NASA STTR 2011 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 11-1 T8.01-9780
RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE: Autonomous Multi-Robotic Systems
PROPOSAL TITLE: Multi-Robot Systems for Subsurface Planetary Exploration

NAME: Astrobotic Technology, Inc. NAME: Carnegie Mellon University
STREET: 4551 Forbes Avenue STREET: 5000 Forbes
CITY: Pittsburgh CITY: Pittsburgh
STATE/ZIP: PA  15213 - 3524 STATE/ZIP: PA  15213 - 3815
PHONE: (412) 682-3282 PHONE: (412) 268-2000

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Steven A Huber
4551 Forbes
Pittsburgh, PA 15213 - 3524
(281) 389-8171

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

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The proposed innovation is a heterogeneous multi-robot team developed as a platform for effective subsurface planetary exploration. State-of-art robotic exploration is based on single-robot systems with human controllers augmented by limited automation. This system requires near-constant communication and a single failure results in the end of the mission. A multi-robot system offers more efficient execution of mission tasks, such as exploration and mapping. The robotic team can re-configure in novel ways to extend range, increase mapping fidelity, or maintain a communication link.

Innovative robot configurations will be developed to overcome the challenges of the subsurface environment. These challenges include power in the dark, communication to Earth, and mobility in rocky terrain. The robot team will implement state-of-art software developed at CMU to enable navigation of rough terrain, autonomous collaboration among large multi-robot groups, and sensing and navigation. Since subterranean features provide protection from surface hazards, low-cost electronics may be used to reduce mission costs. The multi-robot system provides:

Parallelized exploration of large spaces or tunnel networks
Autonomous task generation
Autonomous reconfiguration of robot team to achieve a particular task
Single robot failure does not result in end of mission

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
This program will develop technologies and capabilities that will lead to fully autonomous cooperative multi-robot systems for exploration of large rough terrain. The multi-robot team extends data gathering and mapping capability for future missions through heterogeneous capabilities and adaptive task planning. Configurations will enable optimized multi-robot application in unknown rough terrain.

The specific development is a platform developed around a concept mission to explore a lunar lava tube through entering a skylight. The platform developed will be broadly applicable to similar explorations of rough and/or subsurface planetary environments, including caves, craters, cliffs, or rock fields. Additionally, low-cost robotic team members are configured to exploit operation only in the shelter of subsurface environments without the stringent requirements for survival of radiation and thermal variations at the surface; this is applicable as a strategy to reduce the cost of multi-robot mission implementations.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Multi-robot operations for mapping in a subsurface void are broadly applicable to numerous terrestrial applications. Potential applications are summarized below:

Following or during a natural disaster such as an earthquake or flood, multiple robot teams can be deployed to assess and respond to the situation. Sub-teams of agents perform various categories of tasks such as monitoring, inspection, search and rescue, excavation, evacuation, and distribution of aid.

In mining, activities such as cutting coal, creating roof supports, and transporting coal may take place simultaneously in various locations in a mine and be performed by a combination of humans and machines (including robots). The machines responsible for each of these activities must be efficiently coordinated.

In construction, activities such as excavation, earth-moving, transportation of building materials, and assembly take place simultaneously at different locations on the construction site. Again, the machines responsible for each of the activities must be efficiently coordinated.

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.)
Machines/Mechanical Subsystems
Models & Simulations (see also Testing & Evaluation)
Recovery (see also Vehicle Health Management)
Robotics (see also Control & Monitoring; Sensors)
Spacecraft Design, Construction, Testing, & Performance (see also Engineering; Testing & Evaluation)
Vehicles (see also Autonomous Systems)

Form Generated on 11-22-11 13:44