NASA STTR 2015 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 15-1 T11.01-9889
RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE: Information Technologies for Intelligent and Adaptive Space Robotics
PROPOSAL TITLE: Perception and Navigation for Exploration of Shadowed Domains

NAME: Astrobotic Technology, Inc. NAME: Carnegie Mellon University
STREET: 2515 Liberty Avenue STREET: 5000 Forbes Ave
CITY: Pittsburgh CITY: Pittsburgh
STATE/ZIP: PA  15222 - 4613 STATE/ZIP: PA  15213 - 3815
PHONE: (412) 682-3282 PHONE: (412) 268-6556

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr. William Whittaker
5000 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15213 - 3815
(412) 268-1338

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mr. Steven Huber
2515 Liberty Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15222 - 4613
(281) 389-8171

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

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Information Technologies for Intelligent and Adaptive Space Robotics is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
On-the-ground confirmation of lunar ice will transform space exploration, as ice can provide fuel to support far-reaching exploration and enable commercial endeavors. Evidence from satellite observations strongly supports the presence of polar ice, but driving and excavation are required to confirm presence, measure distribution, and extract resources. In-situ resource extraction at the lunar poles is the precursor for permanent operations on the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
The most promising sites for lunar ice lie in the rugged terrain of the permanently shadowed regions at the poles. These destinations demand robust perception and navigation technologies that provide high position accuracy regardless of lighting conditions.
Existing rover technologies are incapable of the types of perception and navigation required by the challenges of a dark environment that restrict the rover's ability to perceive its surroundings and overcome inherent positional uncertainty. Even the rover's own shadow can present a significant obstacle while operating in the glancing sunlight of polar regions.
The proposed work will develop novel methods for sensing, mapping, and localization in and around the permanently dark regions of planetary bodies. The research will enable the exploration of previously inaccessible dark environments including pits, cold traps, and subterranean voids such as lava tubes and caves on the Moon and Mars. NASA's decadal science survey prioritizes exploration of ancient ices, highlighting a mission to study lunar volatiles in the permanent shadows on the lunar poles. The proposed work innovates perception and navigation technologies to make such polar missions possible.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The proposed technologies enhance prospecting and excavating missions through enabling navigation in the dark. This has the potential to enhance near term missions like Resource Prospector Mission and follow-on missions for sample return or in-situ resource utilization.
The developed technologies also unlock new mission destinations. Newly discovered pits on the Moon and Mars may provide entrance to lava tubes that could give us a deeper understanding of a planet's geologic, climatic, and even biologic history. They may also one day provide shelter to humans. Operation in caves requires dark perception and navigation.
The proposed technologies enable activities that normally happen in sunlight to occur easily in darkness, including autonomous landing, rendezvous, docking, and proximity operations, and perhaps robotic satellite maintenance and mapping of comets or asteroids.
Maturation and mission integration is benefited by Astrobotic's plans for a series of lunar expeditions to deliver commercial payloads. Technology for these missions is being developed in partnership with NASA as part of the Lunar CATALYST program and is funded by customer payments and investment. Demonstration on an early Astrobotic lunar mission will generate data to accurately evaluate and innovate technologies, a key step that enables others to confidently adopt the technology for their own systems.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The developed methods for perception and navigation in darkness will enhance perception in many terrestrial domains including, subterranean, night operations, enclosed spaces, and surveillance. The proposed technology applies broadly to terrestrial applications particularly those that are GPS-denied. Potential applications include driverless cars, search and rescue, mining, infrastructure inspection, military UGVs and UAVs, and agriculture. The developed technology will enhance the models created in these environments and provide higher resolution, more detailed, and more physically accurate models than are produced with existing methods.
In addition, Astrobotic is continually engaged with the government and industrial entities interested in lunar exploration and development. This immersion in the relevant marketplace will enable Astrobotic to identify and market to non-NASA entities who would be interested in licensing use of the technologies developed during the proposed work in their own lunar systems.

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.)
3D Imaging
Data Fusion
Image Analysis
Image Capture (Stills/Motion)
Image Processing
Lasers (Ladar/Lidar)
Positioning (Attitude Determination, Location X-Y-Z)
Thermal Imaging (see also Testing & Evaluation)

Form Generated on 04-23-15 15:37