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A Software Framework for Advancing Perception Capabilities for Rovers Operating in Harsh Lunar Environments

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: 80NSSC22PB163
Agency Tracking Number: 222647
Amount: $149,732.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: T4
Solicitation Number: STTR_22_P1
Solicitation Year: 2022
Award Year: 2022
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2022-07-12
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2023-08-25
Small Business Information
100 43rd Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15201-3100
United States
DUNS: 621287403
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Dan Negrut
 (608) 772-0914
Business Contact
 Dimitrios Apostolopoulos
Phone: (412) 916-8807
Research Institution
 University of Wisconsin-Madison
500 Lincoln Drive
Madison, WI 00000-0000
United States

 Federally Funded R&D Center (FFRDC)

ProtoInnovations in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison proposes to architect, design, develop, and validate a high-fidelity modeling and sensor simulation software and perception algorithms for surface hazard detection in harsh lunar-like environments. The space robotics community currently lacks an end-to-end software suite that simulates the appearance and granular-terrain mechanics of lunar-like environments. As NASA prepares for progressively complex and longer future lunar surface missions, surface robot systems will require higher performance and autonomy capabilities to carry out mission-critical tasks. This includes performing reliably and traversing successfully through previously unexplored lunar terrain in harsh environments. To achieve this, perception algorithms will need to advance significantly to enable high-performance autonomy in dynamic lunar surface conditions.For this project we aimnbsp;to design and develop a software suite consisting of a simulation environment that replicates harsh lunar surface conditions, lunar-terrain mechanics, and exploration rovers with various sensing capabilities. The simulation platform will have interfaces similar to those present on current NASA prototype rovers. This will maximize infusion potential for the deployment of software on future missions utilizing various rover platforms and provide continuous development and monitoring of performance on their digital counterparts. In addition, we will leverage the simulation platform to research, develop and validate perception algorithms to enable object/hazard detection under harsh conditions which commonly occur on the lunar surface: low lighting, oblique lighting, long shadows, permanent shadows, irregular reflectance, and soft soil (lunar regolith), excessive slip and sinkage. Robust perception under these conditions will enable new autonomous capabilities for future surface mobility systems and enhance safe mission operations.nbsp;

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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