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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

Real-Time Integrated Navigation System for Planetary Exploration (RT-INSPEX)

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

Real-Time Integrated Navigation System for Planetary Exploration (RT-INSPEX), Phase II
For supporting NASA's efforts in enhancing robotic autonomy and off-loading work from operators and astronauts, American GNC Corporation has developed the "Real-Time Integrated Navigation System for Planetary Exploration" (RT-INSPEX) to provide autonomous navigation with GNSS-free localization, terrain awareness and traversability estimation, and local/global mapping of unknown environments. Key current capabilities are: (a) advanced image processing for visual odometry based on stereo processing and an innovative routine of feature detection, tracking, and pruning for highly accurate robot motion and position estimation; (b) improved localization by vision and inertial system fusion; (c) simultaneous online local and global mapping; and (d) vision and touch based terrain traversability estimation using a combination of environment classification, ground plane detection, and ground interface analysis. During Phase II, the system will be customized for operating in indoor and outdoor environments and for any robotic vehicle type with the goal of increased autonomy by providing a complete GNSS-free awareness of location, an understanding of surrounding environments, and the ability to navigate autonomously. Areas of work in Phase II include: (1) customization to NASA's robotic platforms such as Robonaut; (2) accurate localization over multiple kilometer distances without GNSS; (3) complete integrated touch and vision based traversability system; (4) holistic scene and indoor/outdoor environment understanding; (5) consistent global map generation with included traversability information; (6) optimal route planning with obstacle avoidance for autonomous navigation; (7) robustness to diverse or adverse conditions in indoor or planetary environments; and (8) verification & validation, embedded development, and implementation in robotic vehicles. The final system can be applied to a variety of systems for NASA, the military, and in the commercial sector. More »

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