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Overview

OCAMS is the first application of intelligent multi-agent system (MAS) technology in NASA’s mission control operations. OCAMS was developed using NASA Ames’ Brahms multi-agent software tools. Brahms, which has been under development in the Ames Intelligent Systems Division since 1998, enables a “from simulation to implementation” software engineering methodology, in which a multi-agent simulation of people’s work practices are turned into a multi-agent workflow system that automates part of the process and integrates seamlessly with existing work practices.

The ISS OCA Officer is responsible for manually up-linking and down-linking all files to and from the ISS. These files include schedules, procedures, commands, email, photographs, health data, newspapers, etc. The WSDE team studied and simulated OCA work practices in collaboration with the OCA team to identify possible process improvements. Using statistics generated from the Brahms simulation model, the team designed and simulated an agent-based workflow system that automates the process of creating a ground-based replica of the ISS file system (the MirrorLAN). Simulation statistics predicted a reduction in mirroring time from 6% to 0.6% of the OCA Officer’s shift – a 90% reduction. Using the Simulation-to-Implementation engineering method, Brahms agents were then converted into a run-time tool called OCAMS. Using the Brahms Virtual Machine, these agents manage the workflow on multiple computers and servers using secure communications provided by the Brahms Collaborative Infrastructure. The tool also automatically writes large parts of the OCA Handover Log. After a successful two-week operations testing phase in Johnson Space Center’s International Space Station (ISS) Mission Control, OCAMS began “live” operations on July 8, 2008. OCAMS is used 24x7 by the ISS OCA Flight Control Team as part of their work process.

The OCAMS rule editor application is a new application allowing the OCA officers to modify the decision-making rules used by OCAMS agents. This allows OCA Officers to change the way OCAMS agents perform their functions, without the OCAMS developers having to change source code. The rule editor feature will reduce maintenance and deployment cost of the OCAMS system and free up valuable development time for the OCAMS team.

OCA Officers estimate that OCAMS R2.0, combined with the mirroring automation introduced with the first release of OCAMS in July 2008, will on average reduce the time required for routine work by 50%. This reduction is enabling a better response to unexpected situations and a consolidation of backroom positions later this year.

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