NASA STTR 2018-II Solicitation

Proposal Summary

 18-2- T4.03-1473
 Coordination and Control of Swarms of Space Vehicles
 Co-Localization for Planetary Rover Teams
Astrobotic Technology, Inc.
912 Fort Duquesne Boulevard, 3rd Floor
Pittsburgh PA  15222 - 4613
Phone: (412) 682-3282
Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Ave
PA  15230 - 3890
Phone: (412) 268-5837

Principal Investigator (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)

Dr. Andrew Horchler
912 Fort Duquesne Blvd, Floor 3 Pittsburgh, PA 15222 - 3638
(216) 272-3882

Business Official (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)

Jeffrey Apeldoorn
912 Fort Duquesne Blvd, 3rd Floor Pittsburgh, PA 15222 - 4613
(571) 232-5029
Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) :
Begin: 3
End: 5
Technical Abstract (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)


This project is developing, testing, and integrating hardware systems and software techniques to enable the co-localization of teams of rovers, specifically targeting small-scale, low size, weight, and power rovers. Utilizing inertial measurement units (IMU), ultra-wideband (UWB) ranging radio, and a model-based approach to relative visual range, bearing, and pose estimation, each rover in a team of small rovers will demonstrate co-localization.

The project will pursue several parallel threads of research and development and culminate in the integration of several of these threads to demonstrate the developed technology: 

  1. Maturation of ranging radio subsystem, including developing error models of the sensor system as well as environmental and power testing of UWB chipsets for flight readiness

  2. Development of visual relative pose estimation and associated error models for these estimations

  3. Development and fabrication of a sensor package that includes camera, ranging system, IMU, and processing board

  4. Integration of the ranging system and visual relative pose estimation together in the sensor package, develop software that fuses the sensor information, and demonstrate the sensor systems co-localization functionality in a relevant mission context.

The proposed research will develop simple and robust techniques for co-localizing multiple rovers in a planetary environment and perception/sensing technologies that incorporate considerations for relevant concepts of operations. We will demonstrate and benchmark a software framework and prototype sensor hardware for tightly coupled multi-agent co-localization in this Phase II contract.

Potential NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)

NASA CLPS payloads will become increasingly ambitious and complex in future missions, and as such, will depend more on co-localization technology. Such technology could also enable missions in undiscovered areas of our solar system such as on the surface of Titan or Mars. NASA’s New Horizons mission to explore Titan with a paired drone and rover, as well as its Mars Helicopter mission are excellent examples of missions that could benefit from improvements in paired navigation.

Potential Non-NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)

Co-localization has utility in the mining, military, and transportation industries. Exploring, mapping, and navigating underground is critical for areas too treacherous for human activity. Teams of co-localizing mining robots could aid in mapping dangerous areas. The capability to reliably co-localize will become an increasingly critical feature for autonomous aircraft as well.

Duration: 24

Form Generated on 11/19/2019 09:04:16