Webster, TX, United States
Webster, TX, United States

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Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.96K | Year: 2016

NASA's future human exploration missions will include remotely operated rovers performing surface exploration and science, as well as free-flyers to reduce the need for human Extra Vehicular Activity. Technologies are needed for remote operation and supervised autonomy of robots. Consider the Resource Prospector (RP) lunar mission. For RP it will be necessary to accomplish as much as possible in the available time. A key requirement for planning such operations is the ability to accurately predict how much resource (e.g., time, power) is needed to perform planned tasks. More accurate resource estimates can prevent wasting resources trying to complete unrealistic plans. Quick turnaround of plans revisions can minimize the time the robot is idle while its plan is being modified. TRACLabs and CMU propose to develop software for the Adaptive Estimation of Resources (AER) to help build and revise plans for robots performing NASA missions. This software will be used to estimate the duration of planned tasks using information about terrain features combined with historical plan performance. These estimates can be used to assess the feasibility of robot plans when built. And can be used to assess the impact of changes to robot plans during execution. These resource models will be updated during a mission to improve the accuracy of estimates at a site. Providing more accurate resource estimates for building robot plans produces plans more likely to complete within the allocated resources. These estimates give the planner a better sense of what resources are required to achieve objectives, which affects both the selection of which objectives to pursue and the order in which to purse them. When replanning is needed, either due to unexpected opportunities or problems, these estimates can help the team determine whether sufficient time remains to complete the revised plan and, if not, help users perform plan trades to determine which subset of activities should be attempted.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.60K | Year: 2016

Current NASA missions to the International Space Station are heavily dependent upon ground controllers to assist crew members in performing routine operations and maintenance as well as responses to off-nominal situations. Standard operating procedures are at the heart of spacecraft operations, with almost 5000 procedures for ISS alone. Performing these procedures often requires close collaboration between ground controllers who have deep knowledge of the spacecraft's systems and crew members who have on-board situation awareness. This close collaboration will become more difficult in extended missions and crew members will need to have more autonomy. Augmented reality technology can help replace some of the guidance that ground controllers offer to crew members during procedure execution. Augmented reality can also provide continuous and just-in-time training opportunities during extended missions as well as entertainment and social connection opportunities. Context-sensitive augmented reality provides different support depending upon the on-board situation and ties directly to procedures, system data, daily plans, background information, and robotic assistants. TRACLabs has developed a procedure integrated development environment called PRIDE that is currently being used by NASA for ISS and Orion procedures. TRACLabs proposes to integrate augmented reality technologies into PRIDE in collaboration with the Georgia Tech Augmented Environmental Lab. In particular, Georgia Tech has developed an augmented realty capable web browser and Javascript framework that will complement the PRIDE web-based procedure execution system. These two industry-leading technologies will form the platform on which a suite of context-sensitive augmented reality applications can be quickly developed and deployed for a variety of NASA applications.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.67K | Year: 2016

Spacecraft automation has the potential to assist crew members and spacecraft operators in managing spacecraft systems during extended space missions. Automation can monitor critical resources, perform routine tasks, respond to unexpected events, and manage the overall operation of on-board systems. Current NASA missions to the International Space Station (ISS) are heavily dependent upon ground controllers to assist crew members in performing these activities. Crew members and ground controllers rely on pre-defined standard operating procedures, which are at the heart of spacecraft operations. In current operations, automation and procedures are completely divorced from each other. This can make it difficult to utilize fully spacecraft automation, especially in long-duration crewed missions when ground control support is limited. On-board spacecraft automation typically focuses on fault monitoring and response and often uses specialized programming or scripting environments that are not accessible to crew members or system experts. On the other hand, procedures focus on non-continuous, human-in-the-loop execution of high-level instructions to change spacecraft operating states or respond to operational failures. This means that spacecraft automation systems are ignorant of the higher-level procedures being performed around them and spacecraft automation systems cannot exchange data with these procedures. On the other hand, procedures do not have access to or authority over spacecraft automation software and little knowledge of resource status or demands. TRACLabs has developed a procedure integrated development environment called PRIDE that is currently being used by NASA for ISS and Orion procedures. TRACLabs proposes to develop a generic PRIDE interface to real-time spacecraft automation systems. We propose to prototype this interface using the Integrated Test and Operations System (ITOS) and its Spacecraft Test and Operations Language (STOL) interpreter.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.94K | Year: 2015

NASA's future human exploration missions will include remotely operated rovers performing surface exploration and science, as well as free-flyers to reduce the need for human Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA). As astronauts move deeper into space, it will be necessary for them to manage these robotic assets with less support from ground controllers. A flexible approach is needed to build and revise plans for semi-autonomous robots. A key requirement for such planning operations is the ability to accurately predict how much resource (e.g., time, power) is needed to perform planned tasks. TRACLabs and CMU propose to develop software to model resources for use in building and revising plans for semi-autonomous robots. The resource models will be used to estimate the duration of planned tasks based on historical plan performance. They will be updated periodically during a mission to improve model accuracy at a site. This software also will be used to provide actual resource data for annotating a map of the site when building. The resource modeling software will be designed for evaluation with the IRG Exploration Ground Data System planning software. Improved resource modeling produces more accurate predictions of the resources needed for planned tasks. More accurate resource estimates improves the likelihood that plans can be executed "as planned". When plans don't go as expected, these resource models can be used to determine how to modify robot plans within available resources. This should reduce the human workload needed to revise robot plans during plan execution and, when revisions are needed, to determine which subset of activities can actually be completed with remaining resources. Such resource modeling technology is enabling for remote operation and supervision of planetary robots with variable levels of autonomy (NASA Roadmap TA4).


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.27K | Year: 2015

TRACLabs has a long-term goal to provide a software toolkit for flexible tool use by robotic manipulators. Our proposed toolkit is a suite of state-of-the-art algorithms focused on extending current pick-and-place planning and control methods to enable robust tool usage by humanoid and other armed robots. Our system provide more intuitive tools for the user of the robotic manipulator, including visualization tools for defining tool use scenarios, including Cartesian tolerances along trajectories and expected forces/torques on the tool tip. This will allow robots to be more capable and more reliable during long-term autonomous tasks, by significantly improving the ability of remote supervisors to command complex tool-usage tasks, by enabling robots to operate safely alongside humans during shared tasks, and by providing a general tool usage framework that works with novel tools and with any robot configuration.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.85K | Year: 2015

As space missions grow longer and more complex, it will be useful for humanoid robots to take over routine and maintenance duties. Such robots will need to be able to follow procedures that were originally authored for human agents. Unfortunately, subtasks that are trivial for a human can be incredibly complex for a robot to execute, and many assumptions about the capabilities and state of the agent can be hidden in the procedure. If humanoids are to become truly useful in this context, we need to develop a methodology – a language – for interpreting procedure steps into goals and skills that are relevant to the deliberative layer of a robot's control system. In this project, we propose to analyze representative procedures for routine activities on ISS and develop an interpretation of them that can be understood by a prototype executive software layer connected to the API for R2. We will demonstrate the execution of these translated procedures on the Simulation of R2 on ISS. R2 on ISS is an ideal testbed for such studies. This work has immediate application to the humanoids being developed at NASA/JSC, such as R2 and Valkyrie, and should have broad applicability in the DoD and industry.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 685.27K | Year: 2014

ABSTRACT: The United States is increasingly reliant on space-based technologies for surveillance, communications, and navigation. However, our satellites face significant threats from failures, space weather, and orbital debris and must become more survivable. A key component to more survivable satellite systems is on-board autonomy. However, autonomy faces challenges in trust from satellite operators. This proposal addresses this issue by developing an operator interface for autonomy software. This interface allows operators to interact with and understand the autonomous satellite system. Our system, called I-HAMMER, interacts with components including the Mission Planner, Threat Response Planner, and Executive. Each component has different responsibilities in the autonomy architecture and each interface is customized for those responsibilities. BENEFIT: Trusted autonomy will result in satellite systems that are more robust, responsive, and cheaper to operate. This will increase their usefulness to the warfighter and analyst while reducing their operations cost. A modular and extensible operator interface will increase the useability of satellite autonomy software. This will dramatically improve the economics, effectiveness and survivability of military satellites. Commercial applications of autonomy software include unmanned vehicles, oil exploration and production rigs, and NASA space missions.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.66K | Year: 2016

Future human space flight missions will take astronauts deeper into space and require increased crew independence from Earth-based flight controllers (crew autonomy). Consequently, they will need to perform more tasks and a greater diversity of tasks. A critical resource for meeting these challenges is greater reliance on robots that can operate with more autonomously [NASA Roadmap TA4]. Greater robot autonomy will require astronauts to manage remote robots operating concurrently with humans. Such management requires the astronaut to plan the activities of one or more robots, direct the execution of the resulting task sequences, and adapt plans when problems or opportunities occur. TRACLabs and CMU propose to develop software for visualizing and comparing exploration plan alternatives and change effects (xPACE) to help crew adapt robot plans quickly and effectively. This software will compute plan figures of merit that provide insight into the effectiveness and risks of plans. It will provide displays using these figures of merit to compare plans from different perspectives and reveal plan strengths and weaknesses. The software also will support modifying plan parameters to improve figures of merit. This software will be designed for evaluation with NASA technology for building robot plans, specifically the IRG Exploration Ground Data System planning software. The proposed software has relevance to more immediate robotic missions operated remotely by humans, such as the Resource Prospector. It is expected that robot plans for tele-operations also will require adaptation during robot operations in response to discoveries or situational challenges. The xPACE software can improve the remote operator's ability to produce safer, more effective plans when re-planning during operations.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.83K | Year: 2016

Test procedures are at the heart of any experimental process, especially those involving novel and complex hardware. Whether these procedures are for system check-out, experimental set-up, data collection, or operating the test article, following appropriate procedures and auditing the results of these procedures brings rigor and repeatability to the experimental process. Typically, test procedures are written in Microsoft Word or Excel and then printed out. Data entry is done by pen and pencil with little to no data captured electronically. This increases the error rate in procedures and reduces efficiency. A cloud-based test procedure system provides procedures via web browsers on tablets or laptops and guides the user through the procedure step-by-step. Electronic test procedures can capture and display data automatically and provide a record of procedure performance. Common procedure elements can be re-used and shared across multiple projects and programs. Custom displays can be generated from the same procedure content for use on-board in addition to on the ground. TRACLabs proposes to extend its existing electronic procedure system, PRIDE, to capture the unique requirements of NASA flight test projects. PRIDE is currently being used on a variety of NASA projects, including the International Space Station (ISS), and by an increasing number of commercial customers. PRIDE replaces the document-oriented test procedures currently in use with information-oriented procedures that are flexible and optimized for on-line performance. The result will be an extensible electronic test procedure system that can be utilized across all of NASA's aeronautical test facilities and programs.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Office of the Secretary of Defense | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 988.94K | Year: 2014

Autonomous vehicles are becoming more and more integral to our nation's defense. There is a desire to increase the autonomy of these vehicles and enable humans to delegate those tasks that are more effectively done by computer. Achieving this will require

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