NASA STTR 2016 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 16-1 T4.03-9758
RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE: Coordination and Control of Swarms of Space Vehicles
PROPOSAL TITLE: Spacecraft Swarm Coordination and Planning Tool

NAME: Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation NAME: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
STREET: 90 Broadway, 11th Floor STREET: 77 Massachusetts Avenue
CITY: Cambridge CITY: Cambridge
STATE/ZIP: MA  02142 - 1050 STATE/ZIP: MA  02139 - 4301
PHONE: (703) 369-3633 PHONE: (617) 253-1207

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr. Sachin Jain
90 Broadway, 11th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02142 - 1050
(617) 229-6812

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mr. Scott Hart
90 Broadway, 11th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02142 - 1050
(617) 500-4892

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 3

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Coordination and Control of Swarms of Space Vehicles is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Fractionated spacecraft architectures to distribute mission performance from a single, monolithic satellite across large number of smaller spacecraft, for missions like close proximity inspection, sparse aperture arrays, robotic assembly, servicing, refueling, etc., can enable higher mission capability, reconfigurability and robustness. This distributed satellite architecture, with large numbers of agents, comes at the cost of extensive mission planning and computational complexity, and greater risk of collisions. As mission profiles scale up to hundreds of agents, there is an exponential increase in the system complexity needed to both plan and control satellite swarm activity and ensure it operates safely in the environment densely populated by other agents.

Aurora Flight Sciences and the MIT Space Systems Lab propose a novel and comprehensive swarm coordination and planning tool that will allow ground-based operators to provide high level mission goals, and observe and re-direct swarms of spacecraft in LEO as the autonomy dynamically plans and executes complex multi-agent missions. The proposed effort combines elements of autonomous, dynamic, multi-vehicle coordination and path planning to meet mission objectives, facilitates close-proximity operations by integrating sensors and software for collision detection and avoidance, and allows high-level human-in-the-loop control of critical mission performance by implementing a Human-Swarm interface.

Phase I focuses on developing and simulating discrete elements of the conceptual tool, leveraging powerful task allocation and path planning algorithms that Aurora has developed over the past several years, coupled with MIT's autonomous collision detection & avoidance and human swarm interfaces. In Phase II we will integrate the modules with a space mission analysis tool and demonstrate performance of key technologies on the SPHERES hardware testbed.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The proposed Swarm Coordination and Planning Tool has the potential to significantly increase the capabilities of legacy assets as well as to reduce the cost of future satellite systems by composing missions of heterogeneous teams of agents that can leverage the capabilities of each agent without having to duplicate or integrate all capabilities into a single platform. For instance, a group of navigation capable inspector satellites can provide an external inspection solution to Earth-escape vehicles like the Orion capsule or ISS; multi-aperture telescopes can provide improved optical performance and better coverage of multiple areas of interest by providing a flexible reconfigurable system; multi-satellite missions can be performed to extend the capabilities and duration of traditional monolithic satellites. Mission scenarios enabled by multi-spacecraft architectures include close-proximity inspection of space-based assets, sparse aperture arrays, robotic assembly, servicing, refueling and a host of other missions.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The proposed Swarm Coordination and Planning Tool (SCPT) can replace or augment pilots performing dangerous and/or high precision tasks. Crop dusting, aerial firefighting, agricultural monitoring, and environmental disaster relief involve complex routing of vehicles at low altitudes. Using the proposed concept for these applications has the potential to save lives and increase productivity. SCPT will also find applications in the burgeoning package delivery domain in which heterogeneous air and ground robots retrieve and deliver packages from base locations to delivery locations. SCPT will also be applicable in the area of warehouse management systems in which large number of cooperative mobile robots perform a majority of physical tasks, automated parking garages, autonomous cars in urban environments, automated mine sensing.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)
Algorithms/Control Software & Systems (see also Autonomous Systems)
Autonomous Control (see also Control & Monitoring)
Data Fusion
Man-Machine Interaction
Navigation & Guidance
Relative Navigation (Interception, Docking, Formation Flying; see also Control & Monitoring; Planetary Navigation, Tracking, & Telemetry)
Robotics (see also Control & Monitoring; Sensors)
Spacecraft Instrumentation & Astrionics (see also Communications; Control & Monitoring; Information Systems)

Form Generated on 04-26-16 15:16