VEHICLES ADAPT TO ACHIEVE GOALS A new operations paradigm is needed to perform ambitious tasks, in space and air and on sea and land, using recent advances in unmanned vehicle hardware. This paradigm should allow the operator to guide vehicles strategically, should enable vehicles to dynamically adapt to their environment without the need for human intervention, and should offer provable, probabilistic guarantees on correctness. The Model-based Embedded and Robotic Systems group (MERS), which I lead, is enabling this paradigm through the creation of an execution architecture for controlling autonomous systems that are goal-directed and risk-aware, and by validating this executive, called Enterprise, on space, undersea, and related systems, both in the lab and in the field. Scientists and engineers guide the Enterprise executive by specifying science goals and operations requirements. Enterprise then uses a range of reasoning methods, including science data analysis, task and motion planning, diagnosis and repair to robustly achieve these goals and requirements.
Due to the corrosive environment, the lander will likely need to diagnose and repair itself to remain operational until the end of its mission.
In support of these future space missions, the Keck Institute of Space Sciences commissioned a two-year study by the Jet Propulsion Lab (Mitch Ingham, John Day, Len Reder), led by Caltech (Richard Murray) and MIT (Brian Williams), to analyze the top 10 planetary missions proposed by the most recent decadal plan for space sciences, and to determine the requirements for flight software and operations architectures that will be needed to support these missions.
In the case of the Venus lander mission, the lander will have roughly a six-hour window to drill, collect, and analyze samples, and then upload data, while acting in a highly corrosive environment. Given the missionâ€™s short time window, the lander will need to act without human intervention. Due to the corrosive environment, the lander will likely need to diagnose and repair itself to remain operational until the end of its mission. If the lander is going to use in situ data to help decide where to collect samples, it will need to make these decisions autonomously.
Published on Nov 18, 2016
Annual magazine review of MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department research and educational initiatives.