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Advanced Algorithms and Controls for Superior Robotic All-Terrain Mobility

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNX15CA25C
Agency Tracking Number: 140131
Amount: $749,977.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: T11.01
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2014
Award Year: 2015
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2015-05-14
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2017-05-13
Small Business Information
5453 Albemarle Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15217-1132
United States
DUNS: 621287403
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Principal Investigator
 (617) 452-3262
Business Contact
Title: Business Official
Phone: (412) 916-8807
Research Institution
 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
 Michael Corcoran
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139-4301
United States

 (617) 253-3906
 Nonprofit College or University

ProtoInnovations, LLC (PI) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have formed a partnership to research, develop, and experimentally characterize a suite of robotic controls to significantly improve the safety, mean travel speed, and rough-terrain access of wheeled planetary rovers. In meeting this goal we have been developing algorithms for all-terrain adaptive locomotion which include:
1. Advanced traction controls, which intelligently govern individual wheel commands as a function of terrain conditions in order to measurably decrease wheel slip;
and, 2. Real-time incipient embedding detection controls, which monitors the rover's inertial signature to rapidly and robustly detect instances of incipient embedding in soft, low bearing-strength soils.

The implementation of these controls will not only allow rovers to autonomously detect and avoid hazardous terrain regions, but also to travel with assured safety on terrain that is steeper and rougher than is currently possible. Moreover, these controls will allow rovers to drive with a reduced risk of catastrophic failure, while simultaneously increasing both the quantity
and potential quality of science data products. This latter capability is enabled by the fact that rovers will be able to travel for long durations without requiring lengthy human interventions, and will be able to travel to sites of greater scientific interest (and proportionally greater mobility difficulty) than what is possible today.

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

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