Automating CapCom Using Mobile Agents and Robotic Assistants

Clancey, William J.; Sierhuis, Maarten; Alena, Richard L.; Graham, Jeffrey S.; Tyree, Kim S.; Hirsh, Robert L.; Garry, W. Brent; Semple, Abigail; Buckingham Shum, Simon J.; Shadbolt, Nigel and Rupert, Shannon M. (2007). Automating CapCom Using Mobile Agents and Robotic Assistants. In: 1st Space Exploration Conference: Continuing the Voyage of Discovery, 30 Jan - 1 Feb 2005, Orlando, FL, US.



Mobile Agents (MA) is an advanced Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) communications and computing system to increase astronaut self-reliance and safety, reducing dependence on continuous monitoring and advising from mission control on Earth. MA is voice controlled and provides information verbally to the astronauts through programs called “personal agents.” The system partly automates the role of CapCom in Apollo-including monitoring and managing navigation, scheduling, equipment deployment, telemetry, health tracking, and scientific data collection. Data are stored automatically in a shared database in the habitat/vehicle and mirrored to a site accessible by a remote science team. The program has been developed iteratively in authentic work contexts, including six years of ethnographic observation of field geology. Analog field experiments in Utah enabled empirically discovering requirements and testing alternative technologies and protocols. We report on the 2004 system configuration, experiments, and results, in which an EVA robotic assistant (ERA) followed geologists approximately 150 m through a winding, narrow canyon. On voice command, the ERA took photographs and panoramas and was directed to serve as a relay on the wireless network.

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