Cooperative Telerobotics Enabled by Software Radio

electricfutureAI and Robotics

Nov 14, 2013 (3 years and 8 months ago)


Cooperative Telerobotics Enabled by Software Radio

1. Project Description

The scope and aim of the proposed project is to develop a simulated interplanetary
exploration environment in which a laboratory
based heterogeneous colony of
cooperative robots in
teract, enabled by software radio. Communication latency will be
introduced artificially to mimic time delays consistent with interplanetary missions.
Members of the colony will be use a variety of communication modes in order to
simulate a realistic scen
ario useful to NASA in which communicating entities most likely
will not be equipped with identical transceivers.

We propose to build on our current expertise in the areas of software radio and
cooperative robotics to develop a cooperative autonomous asse
mbly and exploration
system in support of NASA exploration goals in the H&RT program. It is envisioned that
the communication infrastructure based on software radio will enable "plug and play"
functionality, so that insertion or deletion of specific commun
icating entities into the
communication scheme will be transparent.

The specific H&RT Formulation (Section 6.4.2) Strategic Technical Challenges
addressed by this proposal are:

1. Robotic Networks

2. Modularity

3. Autonomy

4. Margins and Redundancy

5. Da
Rich Virtual Presence

Project Goals:

Goal 1: Establish an interactive network (colony) of at least three and potentially as
many as twenty robots equipped with software radio communications capability

Goal 2: Identify key features and protocol necessa
ry to mimic the interplanetary
exploration environment from a communications standpoint as realistically as possible.

Goal 3: Use the testbed to develop and refine algorithms necessary to eventually
accomplish specific tasks, such as assembly of mechanical

parts, spacecraft docking,
surface exploration, and others as suggested by NASA sponsors.

H&RT Goals and Objectives Supported:

1. Space Backbone Networks and Space Wide Area Networks (Communications,
Computing, Electronics, and Imaging

CCEI). This pro
ject will enable the interaction of
numerous autonomous entities over both short distances and interplanetary distances.

2. Multi
Agent Teaming (Software, Intelligent Systems, and Modeling

SISM). This
project will enable multiple entities to cooperate o
n tasks over distances ranging from
short range (a few meters) to interplanetary.

2. Technology Maturation Approach, Challenges, and Teaming:

This project will begin at a TRL of 2 (Concept formulation) and end at TRL 4 (Laboratory
breadboard). The develo
pment of the proposed robot colony will begin with a paper
study to identify the key components required in consultation with the team members
and NASA sponsors. Key expected obstacles include:

(1) Identifying the operating frequency band(s) and modulation

methods most suited to
the target application

(2) Implementing the necessary electronics in the limited size, weight, and cost
constraints necessary for the laboratory testbed environment.

(3) Adapting existing protocols to accommodate latencies varying f
rom microseconds to
hours due to the need to interact over distances ranging from a few meters to
interplanetary distances.

Technology Maturation:

The most likely road to technology maturation is through the Advanced Space
Operations Technology (ASO) prog
ram element, although there is considerable potential
through the Lunar and Planetary Surface Operations (LPSO) program element as well.
In particular, the proposed research can contribute to ASO in the areas of in
assembly, autonomy, reconfigurabili
ty, and data
rich virtual presence, and can contribute
to LPSO in the areas of intelligent and agile surface mobility systems, surface
manufacturing and construction systems, and surface environmental management.


The project will be directed by D
r. Thaddeus Roppel (Lead, Auburn University Sensor
Fusion Laboratory). Dr. Roppel and Dr. Agrawal (Co
Lead, Wireless Research Center,
Auburn University) will be primarily involved with software radio implementation,
including firmware and software developm
ent. Dr. Wilson (Co
Lead, U. of Washington)
will contribute expertise from the area of distributed architecture implementation, both
software and hardware, as well as robotic systems. Dr. Bradley (Co
Lead, NASA LaRC)
will contribute in the area of robotics
, telerobotics, NASA goals, and NASA policies and

3. Impact on Future Exploration Systems:

Exploration systems of the future will undoubtedly involve multiple vehicles fanning out
over planet surfaces, together with numerous manned and unmann
ed entities in orbit or
in transit between planets. In any conceivable scenario, it will be of the utmost
importance for each entity to have the ability to communicate with all or a subset of the
others with high reliability. Furthermore, tasks such as ex
ploration, assembly, and
inspection will need to be accomplished through cooperation and will require highly
flexible "plug and play" communication systems as proposed here.