experience with SourceForge for a ground-based project, providing optimism that there are technical workarounds to these types of issues.

Briefing 5: Autonomous Rendezvous and Docking

Pierro Miotto (Draper Laboratory) focused his briefing on the Autonomous Rendezvous and Docking (AR&D) subarea, describing past missions that demonstrated manual and autonomous rendezvous and docking in space. Previous efforts in this area have been specialized for each application, with very little reuse or lessons learned. To prevent these mistakes in the future, Miotto argued that next-generation systems must emphasize common standards, open architectures, and non-proprietary solutions.

Miotto split the AR&D subarea into five categories: AR&D analysis, design, and test; autonomous GN&C; autonomous mission management; sensors; and mechanisms. Within the context of a spiral development process, he defined technology requirements and goals for early and future spirals for each of the five categories. He also described the importance of adequate trade space analysis for future AR&D missions, including ensuring that reliability, lighting constraints, and operational concepts do not overly constrain the technology space to require only the state of the art. As a result, he recommended that NASA explore development and demonstration of a range of AR&D technologies at different performance levels. He also recommended that NASA provide access for in-flight testing of systems developed independently of NASA, which would help promote an open architecture for commercial and noncommercial entities. Ideally, this would include creation of a dedicated AR&D facility to perform these kinds of tests in a closed-loop environment.

Briefing 6: Robotics

David Akin (University of Maryland) presented a top-level taxonomy of space robotics and described the current state of the art for mobility versus manipulation and microgravity versus planetary surfaces. He described a lower-level taxonomy of function-based manipulative robotics, and outlined key technology issues for mobility and for manipulation technologies. Each of these applications and technologies drives the required complexity, which can run the gamut from dexterous manipulation to simple actuation.

Akin also described future applications that include niches for a wide variety of space robots, each of which performs varied tasks at high efficiency. He does not see a need for a single generalist robot that can perform any task, but that robotics can be developed to support a variety of these niche roles.

Public Comment and Discussion Session

The following are views expressed during the public comment and discussion session by either presenters, members of the panel, or others in attendance.

•   Roadmap level of detail. Several participants stated that the roadmap covers a lot of ground with a very wide set of topics, which corresponds to a very high-level treatment of individual technologies. As a result, the technical challenges are also at a high level and not very focused. They recommended looking at different solutions that attempt to solve a specific problem (e.g., image/pattern recognition technologies for docking versus planetary exploration), rather than trying to solve this in general.

•   Linkage between missions and technology developments. It was suggested that NASA was more capability-driven than goal-driven when developing TA04. As a result, it can be challenging to see how the priorities for technology development were derived, given the vast list of technologies and the poor linkage between specific technology levels and the missions that require them.

•   Autonomy versus automation. Some attendees recommended that autonomy (cognition) be considered separately from automation (i.e., following if/then/else trees). Many of the roadmap technologies that discuss autonomy are really describing more complex automation. The NASA roadmap developers countered that it is hard to imagine a credible mission in the next 20 to 30 years that would require high



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement