Status Report

NASA JSC: Predictive Planning For Robotic Vehicles

By SpaceRef Editor
January 13, 2014
Filed under , ,

Synopsis – Jan 10, 2014

Statement of Interest Form – Posted on Jan 10, 2014 

General Information

    Solicitation Number: NNJ14ZBH023L

    Posted Date: Jan 10, 2014

    FedBizOpps Posted Date: Jan 10, 2014

    Recovery and Reinvestment Act Action: No

    Original Response Date: Mar 17, 2014

    Current Response Date: Apr 11, 2014

    Classification Code: A — Research and Development

    NAICS Code: 541712

Contracting Office Address

NASA/Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston Texas, 77058-3696, Mail Code: BH


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Johnson Space Center (JSC) is seeking parties interested in collaborative development and mature technologies required for NASA’s future missions and to enhance life on Earth. JSC is looking to partner on the development of broadly applicable technologies as a means to accelerate technology development and strengthen commercialization of federally-funded research and development.


NASA JSC seeks parties interested in co-developing technology associated with its current robotic vehicle capabilities.

NASA intends to address the areas of overall performance, controls modeling and safety, in addition to robotic perception and intelligence. NASA JSC has multiple mobile robot prototypes for planetary exploration. Each of these vehicles is capable of autonomous driving and has sensor packages that provide large streams of environmental data. While these robots are intended for use during human spaceflight missions, NASA JSC desires to employ the robots as explorers during periods of unmanned activity. Earth-based human supervised autonomy is the expected mode of operation for these robotic explorers. The data time delay can range from 2 seconds to 1.5 minutes from vehicle to earth and back to the vehicle (round-trip). Due to these expected and variable data and command latencies, NASA JSC plans to provide predictive models of robot behavior to earth-based human operations supervisors.

Technology associated with Predictive Path-Planning for Robotic Vehicles will be of interest to any entity that desires a navigation system for a completely autonomous vehicle.


Primary challenges include robust sensing of the environment, bandwidth management of data and user-centered interface development.

The main mobile robots developed at NASA JSC are the Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV) and the Centaur 2 rovers. The SEV is a large electric rover that can function as a manned vehicle or as an autonomous robotic vehicle. The SEV consists of a chassis with six wheel modules capable of 360* of motion, enabling it to drive in any direction and to point-turn the entire vehicle, and a cabin for human-use and which also serves as a mounting location for robotic sensors. The SEV chassis without the cabin can carry a variety of payloads. The current SEV can cover very rugged terrain, maneuver steep inclines and perform straight-line driving at a top speed of 12 MPH using its Six Degrees of Freedom (6-DOF) chassis. The Centaur 2 rover has 4 wheel modules, and like the SEV, can point-turn and drive in any direction. Centaur 2 can carry science-payloads, geologic tools or even a Robonaut 2.

Path planning for these rovers will consist of avoiding large objects on a surface (e.g., rocks or human habitats), avoiding craters, driving through permanently dark areas and potentially driving through lava tubes. The human operators supervising the robots must easily model path planning for use.

R&D Status:

The NASA JSC rovers currently use a predictive and interactive graphical interface (PIGI) for unmanned operations over time delays. PIGI provides telemetry from the robot to a human operations supervisor through a visualization of the robot’s environment. PIGI has proven useful for varying communication latencies, minimal bandwidths and variable network speeds. Current path planning for use in PIGI allows the SEV and Centaur 2 rovers to avoid obstacles. JSC desires to produce path-planning models for the robots that will allow them to operate in varying planetary situations, as noted earlier.

Intellectual Property: Multiple individual technologies associated with robotics are currently available for co-development and licensing. Visit

This co-development project may produce new IP that could be jointly owned by NASA and the partner or may become the property of the partner.

This announcement is not to be construed as a Request for Proposal and is not a commitment by the government, nor will the government pay for any information provided. Since this is an Announcement, no evaluation letters or results will be issued to the respondents.

Please submit the attached Statement of Interest Form to Mark Dillard

To view all Co-Development and Partnering Opportunities with the NASA Johnson Space Center please visit our website

Point of Contact

    Name: Mark A. Dillard

    Title: Lead Partnership Development Office Integration

    Phone: 281-244-8460

    Fax: 281-483-4146


    Name: Dana Altmon-Cary

    Title: Contracting Officer

    Phone: 281-483-8228

    Fax: 281-483-4066


SpaceRef staff editor.