One major hurdle to robust multi-robot operations in space is the same hurdle faced by multi-robot applications on Earth—co-located, yet independent, robotic "individuals" do not adequately share state information. State information can include: environmental knowledge, current position and velocity, future state estimates, what task is currently being performed, what resources are needed to complete the current task, where shared resources may be located, and even data about if/why execution failed. Sharing some amount of state information is not only a necessity for multi-robot tasks that require cooperation, but is critical even for groups of independent robots that must share resources.
TRACLabs proposes to create a collection of software processes, called PLUMMRS, that will facilitate sharing of environmental and internal state information to enable safe, efficient navigation and manipulation tasks by heterogeneous robot teams working in a shared workspace. The goal of PLUMMRS (Plan Ledgers and Unified Maps for Multi-Robot Safety) is to provide simple APIs for existing single-agent planning and execution systems to leverage—allowing them to be safely used in multi-agent contexts. PLUMMRS can be used by any individual robot in a group of robots to contribute to, and benefit from, a unified model of not only geometric and semantic perception data but also of expected and currently executing motion- and task-level plan data. PLUMMRS is not a planning framework, as each robot is expected to have its own "black-box" motion- and task-planning capabilities; however, PLUMMRS can be used by both motion- and task-planning & control systems as 1) an oracle of shared knowledge, 2) a safety monitoring watchdog based on shared knowledge, and 3) an arbiter (scheduler) that attempts to loosely coordinate the short-term and long-term desires proposed by all robots that are trying to independently complete their tasks while sharing a workspace and physical resources.
A variety of NASA missions could benefit from PLUMMRS for multi-robot teaming, including ISS robots like Astrobee and R2, the Lunar Gateway, OSAM systems like Restore-L, the in-Space Assembled Telescope, Orbital Debris Mitigation, Artemis, the Lunar Surface Science Mobility System, Commercial Lunar Payload Services, Mars sample return, Discovery, exploration mission opportunities like Titan or Europa, swarm-based exploration of Mars lava tubes, and various STMD technology demonstrations.
The DoD needs robot teams for space, air, land, and sea. Relevant parties include the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, AFRL RANGRS, U.S. Army TARDEC, the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office, the Naval Aviation Enterprise, and the Army Futures Command.
TRACLabs' customers in aerospace, automotive, and oil & gas manufacturing are also using robot teams for assembly and inspection.