The next generation of NASA missions such as Gateway will benefit from having effective intravehicular (IVA) robotic caretakers that can support science operations and can tend to the spacecraft when only intermittently crewed. While a number of NASA robotic systems such as Astrobee or Robonaut 2 have been developed to function as such potential caretakers, many technical questions remain on how to effectively coordinate their activities in conjunction with each other, with the spacecraft command and controls systems (environmental, power, avionics, thermal, propulsion, etc.), and with the activities of human crew (when available). In response to this need, TRACLabs proposes to develop a software framework that draws upon principles of dynamical systems theory to ground ontological representations that can support autonomous caretaking and payload activities. We call this system DISCO-RECOVERY (DISCrete-event Ontology for the RECursive Organization of VEhicular & Robotic activitY). The goal of this work will be to investigate how these typically disparate formalisms can complement each other and support a common framework for expressing the behavior of the systems (robots and spacecraft) that must be coordinated to ensure proper operation.
The proposed effort will specifically targets the operations of spacecraft such as Gateway that may only be crewed as little as one month a year. The goals of DISCO-RECOVERY have much synergy with the ongoing NASA Integrated System for Autonomous and Adaptive Caretaking (ISAAC) effort, though will generally be useful for further cislunar and lunar missions (e.g., Artemis). Having transitioned past SBIRs to a Phase III status, we are optimistic that this work will inspire similar investment by NASA programs.
We will market DISCO-RECOVERY first to existing TRACLabs customers in aerospace, energy, automotive, and defense sectors as autonomous maintenance, operations, and coordination between heterogeneous teams of robotic and electronic assets is a key goal in each of these sectors, including via "lights-out" factories.