Tuesday, November 26, 2019

2019-11-26: MIT Students Visit the Autonomy Incubator for Continued Search and Rescue Research

Katherine, Kyel, and Yulun analyze the programming during the test.

In October, three MIT students visited the Autonomy Incubator again to continue their research with search and rescue missions.

The three students, Katherine Lie, Kyel Ok, and Yulun Tian, have visited several times in the past. In fact, you can read about one of their visits here!

Fortunately for us, the Virginia weather wasn't quite too cold yet, and we could bear the outdoors without the risk of potentially freezing.

The specific goal this time around was to test an integrated real-time exchange of information of the UAVs. The team added two new modifications that are unique to how we normally run our search and rescue tests. The first of which was the person-detection itself, and Loc Tran actually printed a life-sized portrait of his son to act as the lost hiker.

Loc's cardboard-son was our stand-in missing person.

As hysterical as that is, it was actually very successful!

The person detection was running on-board, and they were able to get some great detections of the person and even the co-pilot.

The drone successfully detected the fake Felix.

This was their first time testing with the on-board person detection, rather than off-board, so the drone was actually flying around with a camera and doing the search.

"It was a nice way to tie everything together because now it's doing the actual detecting," Loc said. "It puts a stamp on the search part of the search and rescue mission."

The second modification was "a bit more behind the scenes," as Loc said. Since they were testing with on-board map merging instead of off-board, the two vehicles were creating one map each and then aligning them together to make one unified map. This allows them to share information so that the two drones could differentiate where they've already searched and where they are in space at any given moment. This means they're no longer independent of each other but are integrated.

Before, when the LIDAR was scanning, it was making a 3D map. Now they're doing a 2D approximation and using that to align the two maps.

Other than the MIT students and Loc, there are a few others that had a huge hand in the effort. Chester Dolph has helped out a lot throughout the few years that they have been working on the project.

"It was a smashing success!" Chester said. "It was a really awesome project, and I like that it solved an interesting problem space. Getting all of these sensors to work together in real-time is very tricky, but the MIT folks developed a great code."

Pilots Brian Duvall and Zak Johns are also to thank, as well as Ralph Williams and Chris Meak.

Naturally, the group came together to take a photo at the end of the
research day.

This mission was one of five winners of the AUVSI XCELLENCE Humanitarian Award in May.

Friday, August 9, 2019

2019-08-09: Free Flyers: Autonomous Coordinated Operations


This team of interns are simulating small satellite free flyers for coordinated operations.  The achieved some major things this summer, and I was very happy to capture exactly what they've been working on!

Check it out above!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

2019-08-08: Sarah Woodham: Exit Presentation Summer 2019


Sarah Woodham, a rising senior at Virginia Tech, worked with HFACS (Human Factors Analysis and Classification System) this summer.

Watch her exit presentation to learn more!

2019-08-08: Kathleen Clark: Exit Presentation Summer 2019


Kathleen, or Katie, Clark presented AMP, A Maze Project, where she worked towards understanding human trust in autonomous machines.

This summer, she developed various mazes to test individual differences and communication styles of humans so they can better trust autonomous machines.

2019-08-08: Pathways Intern Ben Hargis on Inertial Transfer for In-Space Assembly




This is Benjamin Hargis' third time interning with NASA, and this summer he is working on several different aspects in regards to In-Space Assembly. More specifically, he is diving deep into the concept of inertial transfer, the passing of an object from one manipulator to the next using the object's own inertia.

One of his main goals is to create a demonstration that incorporates all of the different concepts he and his colleagues have explored this summer.

Watch his Spotlight to learn more!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

2019-08-06: Nicole Oman's Journey From Nature to Space


Nicole Oman
At the end of July, Nicole Oman will be a part of the Ai for a full year as an Administrative Assistant. After earning her degree in Outdoor Recreation from Northern Michigan University, she did not exactly go down the path she thought she was going to take.

"Life just happens, and sometimes you go in different directions," Nicole said.

After graduating, she began a job in the Newport News area, which led to a position as Administrative Assistant for Christopher Newport University.

After ten years of working for CNU, she decided to find a more career-focused occupation that satisfied her fascination with space exploration. As a result, Nicole is currently working as an Administration Assistant for our very own Autonomous Systems Branch (aka Autonomy Incubator) as well as for the Electromagnetics and Sensors Branch. Here at NASA LaRC, she found an environment that is moving forward in technology, challenges her thinking, and keeps her on her toes. From one branch to another, she can go from processing travel orders to getting approvals to buy hardware and software.

If there is anything to learn from Nicole Oman, its that you become invaluable when you're a creative problem solver and team player.

By NASA volunteer, Trayda Murakami

Monday, August 5, 2019

2019-08-05: Payton Heyman Exit Presentation Summer 2019


This summer, I made cartoons of interns, a video campaign, and hung out with more robots!

With this being my third internship here at the Ai, I had a lot of ideas and goals going into the summer. Watch and listen to my exit presentation, where I discuss the struggles and successes of this season.