Autonomous Robots

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 29–52 | Cite as

An Autonomous Spacecraft Agent Prototype

  • Barney Pell
  • Douglas E. Bernard
  • Steve A. Chien
  • Erann Gat
  • Nicola Muscettola
  • P. Pandurang Nayak
  • Michael D. Wagner
  • Brian C. Williams


This paper describes the New Millennium Remote Agent (NMRA) architecture for autonomous spacecraft control systems. The architecture supports challenging requirements of the autonomous spacecraft domain not usually addressed in mobile robot architectures, including highly reliable autonomous operations over extended time periods in the presence of tight resource constraints, hard deadlines, limited observability, and concurrent activity. A hybrid architecture, NMRA integrates traditional real-time monitoring and control with heterogeneous components for constraint-based planning and scheduling, robust multi-threaded execution, and model-based diagnosis and reconfiguration. Novel features of this integrated architecture include support for robust closed-loop generation and execution of concurrent temporal plans and a hybrid procedural/deductive executive.

We implemented a prototype autonomous spacecraft agent within the architecture and successfully demonstrated the prototype in the context of a challenging autonomous mission scenario on a simulated spacecraft. As a result of this success, the integrated architecture has been selected to fly as an autonomy experiment on Deep Space One (DS-1), the first flight of NASA';s New Millennium Program (NMP), which will launch in 1998. It will be the first AI system to autonomously control an actual spacecraft.

autonomous robots agent architectures action selection and planning diagnosis integration and coordination of multiple activities fault protection operations real-time systems modeling 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barney Pell
    • 1
  • Douglas E. Bernard
    • 2
  • Steve A. Chien
    • 2
  • Erann Gat
    • 2
  • Nicola Muscettola
    • 3
  • P. Pandurang Nayak
    • 3
  • Michael D. Wagner
    • 4
  • Brian C. Williams
    • 5
  1. 1.Caelum Research CorporationNASA Ames Research CenterMoffett Field
  2. 2.Jet Propulsion LaboratoryCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadena
  3. 3.NASA Ames Research CenterRecom TechnologiesMoffett Field
  4. 4.Fourth Planet Inc.Los Altos
  5. 5.NASA Ames Research CenterMoffett Field

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