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A4O Technology Tested at DRATS

ETDP Automation for Operations (A4O) technology was successfully tested as part of the 2010 D-RATS mission this year near the SP Mountain area outside of Flagstaff, AZ. The A4O software was hosted on the Habitat Demonstration Units (HDUs) Software and Avionics (SWA) subsystem. The HDU SWA includes several embedded computer systems, a message-handling middleware component, and interfaces for control of the lighting and camera components (among others). The A4O software components deployed on the HDU SWA include the Procedures Editor (PRIDE), the Universal Executive (UE), and the Procedural Display (PD). Also integrated is a bridging interface between the HDU SWA middleware and the messaging software used in the A4O architecture.

Lighting Diagnostic Procedures were written and then successfully tested. Also, an example of a timed camera-control procedure was successfully tested. However, the initial intended creation and testing of daily, task-dependent, timed camera-control procedures in an operational context was demonstrated with limited operational testing during the D-RATS operation. This was primarily due to time constraints caused by overall HDU operations schedule compression and by previous problems with HDU subsystems that resulted in a lack of adequate equipment availability for A4O tests. Additionally, GeoLab’s priority over the camera resource during GeoLab testing operations also hindered testing.

This work, entailing the first involvement of crew-autonomy-enabling A4O technology with the D-RATS team, provided valuable experience in deploying this software in a distributed, embedded, heterogeneous OS computing environment. Its major accomplishment was the successful functional tests that exercised the A4O components described above for the creation, deployment, and execution of the represented procedures in a field-operational environment.

The A4O team demonstrated four objectives:

  1. Control HDU Hardware from A4O software. We demonstrated the capability of writing procedures to control the HDU using the software developed for A4O, with minimal code development or maintenance.
  2. Modify Procedures on the fly or in the field. We demonstrated the capability to create and/or modify procedures at the last minute, with modifications done by personnel in the field.
  3. Assist personnel in performing procedures that involve both autonomous and manual steps. We demonstrated the ability to walk personnel through a procedure, where some elements of the procedure are performed manually and other elements are performed automatically.
  4. Autonomous operation of procedures at a particular time. We demonstrated autonomous procedures can be scheduled to operate at a particular time of day.

BACKGROUND: The Automation for Operations (A4O) project develops advanced technology for operation of Constellation. Specific technologies include the development of electronic procedures, procedure authoring, automated verification and validation of procedures, adjustable procedure automation, distributed planning, automated planning, and supporting analysis of the process of generating plans and procedures for human spaceflight.


TEAM MEMBERS: J. Frank (ARC), K. Michael Dalal (ARC/SGT), C. Fry (ARC/Perot), L. Wang (JSC), D. Lawler (JSC), T. Ngo (JSC), L. Garner (JSC/Tietronix), A. Molin (JSC/S&K Aerospace), C. Russell (JSC/Tietronix), A. Schram (JSC/L3), and many others across NASA Ames, JPL, JSC, and LaRC

Contact: Jeremy Frank

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