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Robotic Recon Operational Readiness Test

From November 3-6, 2008, the Intelligent Robotics Group (IRG) conducted an Operational Readiness Test (ORT) of a “robotic recon” system at NASA Ames. During the ORT, the K10 “Red” robot was used to establish a preliminary geologic map of the outdoor Marscape test area and to help plan a short 30-min follow-up extra-vehicular activity (EVA) in shirtsleeves in that yard. The goal was to improve NASA’s understanding of how advance robotic scouting can help plan EVAs, and how it might be best used to complement EVAs.

During the ORT, a team consisting of IRG engineers, planetary scientists, and flight controllers from Johnson Space Center (JSC)’s Mission Operations Directorate remotely operated K10 Red from a simulated ground control setup in the NASA Ames FutureFlight Central facility. A variety of interactive graphical user interfaces and real-time robot performance monitoring systems were used to command K10 activities.

In addition to the K10 test, a lunar traverse planning exercise was conducted. This exercise focused on the southern portion of Palus Putredinis, the South side of Rima Archimedes, and Hadley Rille. The objective was to first establish a baseline traverse plan and then subsequently identify where ground-level data (e.g., data collected by robotic recon) would help refine the plan. For the exercise, the team used recent high-resolution digital scans of Apollo Metric Camera images, a digital elevation model created from them (with the Ames StereoPipeline), and other datasets (geologic map, Clementine data, etc.) for planning.

BACKGROUND: The distance between Earth and the Moon allows for frequent communications between ground control centers on Earth and robots on the Moon. Robot command and control can be continuous. Communications can occur once every ten minutes between Earth and the Moon, as compared to once a day between Earth and Mars. This ORT is being conducted to identify new areas for development and to help engineers identify issues that are not readily apparent in small-scale tests.

  • K10 Team: Leslie Keely, Matt Deans, Hans Utz, Eric Park, Susan Lee, Vinh To, Maria Bualat, Xavier Bouyssounouse, Michael Lundy, Trey Smith, David Lees, Estrellina Pacis, Linda Kobayashi, Simon Rutishauser
  • Ground Control: Rob Landis, Steve Riley, Tifanie Smart, Tod Milam, Debbie Shreckenghost
  • Science Team: Jack Schmitt, Ken Ford, Mark Helper, Kip Hodges, Pascal Lee, Jerry Schaber, Marwan Hussein, Melissa Rice, Jeff Tripp
  • Collaborators: NASA JSC; Optech, Inc.; SPAWAR; TRACLabs, Inc.; Arizona State University; Univ. of Texas-Austin; Cornell University; IHMC

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, Exploration Technology Development Program, Human-Robotic Systems

Contact: Terry Fong


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