NASA awards contract to Charles River Analytics to support lunar robot exploration
Charles River Analysis won a contract of approximately $ 125,000 from NASA to give exploration robot teams the ability to act as an autonomous swarm. Charles River has partnered with Dr Carlo Pinciroli of the Novel Engineering for Swarm Technologies (NEST) laboratory at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute to support future missions for NASA’s lunar exploration program.
(Photo: Bill Ingalls / NASA via Getty Images)
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As efforts multiply to establish a sustained human presence on the moon, NASA must explore and understand the composition and origin of the lunar surface. Robots and multi-robot systems are being developed to take measurements and explore hills, craters and even lava tubes, but these robots also need to coordinate their activity autonomously when they cannot communicate with them. the controllers on Earth.
ASTER (Autonomous Swarming for Teams of Exploration Robots) will explore cooperation and attribution of behaviors for autonomous teams of 4 to 10 robotic vehicles. It combines the Swarm Coordination Framework developed at Charles River Analytics and the Buzz Programming Language developed by Dr Pinciroli at the NEST Lab (both developed for heterogeneous swarms of real-world robots) to give robot teams the ability to divide the tasks, with each robot recognizing what job it can do best, given what it knows of the available tasks and all of the other robotic vehicles on its team.
Due to dust, mechanical wear and tear, and harsh environments, robots almost always lose certain technical capabilities. Robot teams must learn to anticipate and detect any deterioration that occurs and use their combined abilities to circumvent the damage. ASTER will also give the robotics team this capability with its degradation and fault management algorithms.
“Robots are our pioneers in exploration,” said David Koelle, technical lead for the ASTER effort. “To understand our universe and prepare for our presence on a new planet, teams of advanced robots will need to work together effectively, anticipate the needs of others, and solve real-world problems without human intervention.”
Koelle shared his team’s enthusiasm not only for ASTER, but as they review current efforts like that of NASA Cooperative Autonomous Distributed Robotic Exploration (CADRE) project and plan systems to support future exploration by autonomous robots of the Moon, Mars and beyond.
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