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2008 Moses Lake Sand Dunes Field Test

From June 1-14, 2008, the Intelligent Robotics Group (IRG) will participate in the Exploration Technology Development Program (ETDP) Human-Robotic Systems (HRS) project field test at Moses Lake Sand Dunes. During the test, IRG will operate two ARC planetary rovers, K10 Red and K10 Black, to perform a variety of “utility robot” tasks. The Moses Lake Sand Dunes field test will involve approximately seventy researchers and seven robot systems from six NASA Centers (ARC, GRC, JPL, JSC, KSC, LaRC) and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). The objectives for this test are to: (1) mitigate risks associated with robotic systems for lunar exploration; (2) explore lunar surface operation scenarios; and (3) evaluate systems through field testing in a lunar analog (topographical) environment.

In the field, IRG will use the ARC K10 Red robot to perform topographic mapping survey and site recon (science scouting). IRG will also operate the ARC K10 Black robot to conduct systematic site survey with ground-penetrating radar, to map wireless data (Wi-Fi) network coverage, to deploy Wi-Fi relay devices, and to provide mobile camera support. Finally, IRG will provide software support for the JPL ATHLETE walking and CMU Scarab rover “dark navigation” demonstrations.

For the “site recon” and “systematic site survey,” IRG will use a prototype ground control team (located at JSC) to remotely operate the K10 robots. The design of this ground control is derived from organizational structures and procedures used during Apollo (particularly the “J” missions), as well as for the Space Shuttle, International Space Station (ISS), and Mars Explortion Rover (MER) project. During the field test, IRG will study the ground control structure in order to understand how to plan and manage surface science activities when there is significantly more data, bandwidth, and interactivity than is available to ground control for current Mars operations.

BACKGROUND: In order to enable more capable and cost-effective lunar exploration, IRG is developing teleoperated and supervised “utility” robot hardware, software, ground control structure, and operational procedures. These systems will be used to perform routine, tedious, highly repetitive, and/or long-duration tasks that would be unproductive for crew to manually perform. Emphasis is placed on automatic, low-risk, site operations that nominally do not require robots to operate in close, physical proximity to EVA crew (for safety and efficiency reasons) and that do not require human-paced interaction or continuous human control.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: ETDP Human-Robotic Systems, ETDP In-Situ Resource Utilization


MOSES LAKE FIELD TEAM: Maria Bualat (test director), Lorenzo Flueckiger, Terry Fong, Linda Kobayashi, Susan Y. Lee, Estrellina Pacis, Vytas SunSpiral, Vinh To, Hans Utz

JSC GROUND CONTROL TEAM: Xavier Bouyssounouse, Matt Deans (lead), David Lees, Eric Park, Trey Smith

COLLABORATORS: ETDP Autonomy for Operations (A4O) project, ARC Planning and Scheduling Group (Code TI), Optech, Inc., SPAWAR


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