This call for technology development is in direct support of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD). The purpose of this research is to develop component and subsystem level technologies to support robotic precursor exploration missions. To that end, it is the intent of this Topic to capitalize on advanced technologies that allow humans and robots to interact seamlessly and significantly increase their efficiency and productivity in space. The objective is to produce new technologies that will reduce the total mass-volume-power of equipment and materials required to support both short and long duration planetary missions. The proposals must focus on component and subsystem level technologies in order to maximize the return from current SBIR funding levels and timelines. Doing so increases the likelihood of successfully producing a technology that can be readily infused into existing robotic system designs. This research focuses on technology development for the critical functions that will ultimately enable surface exploration for the advancement of scientific research. Surface exploration begins with short duration missions to establish a foundation, which leads to extensible functional capabilities. Successive buildup missions establish a continuous operational platform from which to conduct scientific research while on the planetary surface. Reducing risk and ensuring mission success depends on the coordinated interaction of many functional surface systems including power, communications infrastructure, and mobility and ground operations. This topic addresses technology needs within three subtopic areas:
- Mobility systems.
- Dexterous manipulation.
- The interfaces that facilitate productive and seamless interaction between humans and robots.