NASA SBIR 2021-II Solicitation

Proposal Summary

Proposal Information

Proposal Number:
21-2- Z3.04-2299
Phase 1 Contract #:
Subtopic Title:
Autonomous Modular Assembly Technology for On-Orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing (OSAM)
Proposal Title:
Autonomous Cobots to Enhance Situational Awareness

Small Business Concern

TRACLabs, Inc.
100 Northeast Interstate 410 Loop #520, San Antonio, TX 78216
(281) 461-7886                                                                                                                                                                                

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Michael Lanighan
100 North East Loop 410, Suite 520, TX 78216 - 4727
(281) 461-7886                                                                                                                                                                                

Business Official:

David Kortenkamp
100 Northeast Interstate 410 Loop #520, TX 78216 - 4727
(281) 461-7886                                                                                                                                                                                

Summary Details:

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) :                                                                                                                                                          
Begin: 4
End: 6
Technical Abstract (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words):

Robotic technologies are expected to support the Artemis missions in numerous ways, from lander site preparation to various construction and lander logistic tasks in orbit and on the lunar surface. Controlling these remote assets effectively confronts a longstanding problem in robotics. Teleoperating these robots remotely induces a high cognitive load on robot operators because they must manage 6 degrees of freedom in the mobile base, up to 7 degrees of freedom in the robotic arm, and additional degrees of freedom in the end-effector. To compound the issue, remote assets generally have myopic sensor feedback that does not provide sufficient information alone to maintain situational awareness for effective operations. As such, operators must also control any additional sensor apparatus or robots used to maintain situational awareness. Situational awareness has a large impact on mission outcome-salient information fused and appropriately displayed to a remote operator has shown to result in higher mission success. However, reconfiguring a multi-agent system to increase situational awareness will further burden crew workload as operators will need to manually allocate and position additional resources to obtain requisite views. To address this issue, TRACLabs has invented a framework called ACES (Autonomous Cobots to Enhance Situational Awareness) to enhance perceptual feedback and decrease the cognitive load on remote robot operators by building upon ideas from active perception, sliding autonomy and task-level commanding. The resulting system autonomously positions additional robots or sensor systems not currently engaged in a task to obtain additional meaningful percepts to enhance operator situational awareness, thus increasing the likelihood of successful task completion while reducing cognitive load on crew.


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

Multiple near-term and future NASA missions and projects could benefit from the advances we expect to see over the lifetime of this project, including:

  • LANDO – NASA ECI project starting 10/1/2021

  • MMPACT – Moon to Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction Technology

  • PASS – Persistent Assembled Space Structures

  • LSMS – Ongoing effort to further develop and demonstrate the LSMS (Lunar Surface Manipulation System)

  • OSAM – On-orbit Service Assembly and Manufacturing efforts

  • iSAT – in-Space Assembled Telescope
  • Artemis
Potential Non-NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words):

OSAM efforts of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Space Vehicles (RV) division; DARPA RSGS; Commercial Space Companies; Inspection/verification for remote facilities for Energy, Automotive, and Chemical Manufacturing sectors 

Duration:     24

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