Thursday, February 25, 2016

2016-02-25: Full Flight Area in the Autonomy Incubator

This week, we installed our tracking system on the walls (bottom right), rehung our net (bottom left) and laid the full floor down in the Autonomy Incubator (top).
Our Upgraded Flight Area
 Now we can fly fully observed to measure performance floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall. The 2016 Spring Interns added their personal touch with the "AI" on the right hand side of the floor.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

2016-02-23: 2016 Spring Intern Erica Meszaros

Erica Meszaros, a graduate in linguistics from Eastern Michigan University with a bachelors degree in classical languages (Greek/Latin) from the College of Wooster, has joined the NASA Langley Autonomy Incubator team for the spring 2016 semester. Erica is working on human communication with intelligent machine agents in the system during Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operations. She is studying the utilization of natural communication modalities to define and assess human-drone interactions and interpret the human participants' intent. Imagine the type of  interactions humans have with dogs. This interaction is facilitated by voice-based communication while the human "mission specialist" is within the field of view of the dog or, in this case, a robot or UAV. Our expectation is that in the not-too-distant future, humans will be working in teams with robots by using task-based natural language dialogues to coordinate activities. This approach to human-machine teaming using natural language as part of a mixed-initiative fleet and the ability to update plans and tasks based on perceived and communicated information is a critical aspect of establishing trust in autonomous systems and enabling upcoming NASA missions.

Erica Meszaros

Monday, February 15, 2016

2016-02-15: 2016 Spring Intern Kevin French

Kevin French, who recently earned his BS in electrical engineering summa cum laude from the University of Florida, has joined NASA Langley's Autonomy Incubator team for the spring 2016 semester. Kevin's research area is real-time object detection, classification, tracking, and state prediction to enable the safe and efficient mobility of unmanned autonomous platforms without relying on human interaction. NASA LaRC's Autonomy Incubator is developing and maturing algorithms to solve a myriad of challenges for autonomous flight operations in dynamic and unstructured environments such as what will be needed for planetary exploration but the advantages of these capabilities don't stop there. These technologies can be leveraged and applied in civilian applications such as earth science missions, search and rescue operations, infrastructure inspection, wildlife protection, and many other prospective ideas.

Kevin French

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

2016-02-09: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden tours the Autonomy Incubator

After delivering his State Of NASA address at LaRC, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden visited the Autonomy Incubator for a tour and conversation about the state of autonomous systems and NASA missions.While with us in Building 1222, the Administrator heard about sensing, perception, localization, human-machine teaming, motion planning, and collaborative autonomy.

Anna Trujillo spoke with Administrator Bolden about Human Systems Interaction (HSI) protocols used to communicate with drones via semantics and visual cues. During the tour, she demonstrated how a scientist could define a complex flight path using simple gestures and natural language.

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden (L) speaks with Anna Trujillo (R)
Dr. Loc Tran and Administrator Bolden discussed object detection, classification, and tracking. Dr. Tran's work currently focuses on distinguishing different kinds of objects for, among many reasons, to determine if an object is a hazard to be avoided.

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden (L) meets with Dr. Loc Tran (R)
while Jim Neilan demonstrates visual odometry on the Mars Flyer
Standing with Dr. Danette Allen, Administrator Bolden observed multiple Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) in flight as they performed a cooperative mission under development in support of NASA's earth science objectives.
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden (L) talks with Dr. Danette Allen (R)
while LaRC Center Director Dave Bowles looks on