NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 S5.02-8939
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Mars In Situ Robotics Technology
PROPOSAL TITLE: AGATE: Autonomous Go and Touch Exploration

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
715 W. Michigan Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801-4841

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Michael Seelinger
715 W. Michigan Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801-4841

The innovation (AGATE, for Autonomous Go And Touch Exploration) will enable single-sol "go and touch" instrument placement from distances of up to five meters for scientific exploration rovers. It will reduce the number of sols required to examine objects of scientific interest, while increasing the accuracy of instrument placement relative to visually-specified targets. AGATE, based on the proposing firm's patented MCSM control algorithm, is innovative in providing, for the first time, stereo-vision based precision control of the mobile base of the rover and the onboard robotic arm relative to a visually-specified target. This provides a significant advantage over current MER technology since the new system will automatically compensate for wheel slippage and kinematic inaccuracy in order to ensure accurate placement of the instrument relative to that target. The algorithm will use the NASA-JPL standard CAHVOR stereo-camera model used on the Sojourner, Spirit, and Opportunity rovers. A key element of the innovation will be the capability of autonomous, precise, and robust transfer of target information from the navigation cameras (used for long-range) to the front hazard cameras (used for positioning the robotic arm). In the commercial market, AGATE will enable a vision-guided forklift to engage autonomously pallets located on high shelves.

AGATE will enable high precision mobile manipulation from distances of on the order of five meters and will be applicable to a variety of NASA applications, most directly on planetary exploration rovers. AGATE high precision go and touch capability will allow more science to be accomplished in the same number of sols by ensuring accurate placement of the instrument relative to the visually-specified targets. AGATE will allow for graceful system degradation by allowing the system to continue operating even with a reduced number of degrees of freedom. AGATE would also benefit assembly and maintenance tasks requiring mobile manipulation.

AGATE will enable computer-controlled forklifts to engage pallets located atop high shelves by providing the means for transferring visual target information from cameras on the forklift body to cameras attached to the forks. The AGATE system could be added to commercially available AGV (automatically guided-vehicle systems) enabling them to engage as-located pallets instead of relying on pallets prepositioned at precise, known locations. AGATE could be integrated onto standard forklifts as an operator-assist for engaging pallets located on high shelves. AGATE could also be used to control other commercial mobile manipulators, such as backhoes, cherry-pickers, etc.