The proposed effort is a framework that supports long-term autonomous exploration efforts in unknown spaces by developing state-of-the art methods to facilitate rapid iteration and customization of search strategies for missions that have little a-priori information. The Tool for Autonomous Terrain Exploration of Remote Spaces (TATERS) is a flexible software system that allows researchers and mission designers to reduce the risk of exploration and give them the adaptability to easily pivot strategies as new mission data becomes available. This technology will help to accelerate mission times, optimize in-situ resources, and develop new search behaviors. TATERS will be able to adapt to new situational awareness information, automatically run scenarios, and produce defined metrics that quantify exploration performance. TATERS will consist of 1) a software framework to test applications of search strategies of heterogenous teams 2) the ability to adapt to new information as it becomes available 3) the ability to parametrically modify search parameters and report defined metrics and 4) an initial set of search strategies targeted for the lunar environment and mapping of volatiles.
TATERS can be used collaboratively by mission designers and researchers as an autonomy planning and research tool. Novel search strategies can be developed along with performance metrics, which mission designers and engineers can use to mitigate risks and optimize resources on off world missions. Multiple search strategies will give mission designers options to strategize autonomy techniques. This technology can be used to develop search strategies for exploring volatiles on the moon or mars, mapping out lava tubes, and exploring ocean worlds.
The need for adaptive search strategies extends to terrestrial environments. Searching for volatiles and unknowns also can be applied to the agricultural industry for soil monitoring, locating ore deposits in the mining industry, or navigating areas too dangerous for humans to enter. TATERS can also be used by university entities, such as Planetary Surface Technology Development Lab.