Sep. 12th, 2010

purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (ai)
The project I'm currently working on involves the programming of multiple satellites to work in coordination using multi-agent techniques. Steve Chien, from JPL, seems to be one of the key people when it comes to getting artificial intelligence technology onto satellite systems. Have gave about 10 talks at iSAIRAS. I'm not sure if that is typical of the field or a result of various belt-tightening measures (he wasn't the first author on many of the papers he was presenting and actually commented at one point on the difference in style between his various sets of slides). Something similar happened at this year's AAMAS where Medhi Dastani gave about six talks because his institution had refused to fund PhD students to travel to the conference.

Two of Chien's talks involved cooperation between a mixture of satellites and on-ground sensor systems, or robots. One was a very speculative piece of work ultimately aimed at seismic and atmospheric events (e.g. dust devils) on Mars. The practical work involved a small rover robot and a couple of mounted cameras in a constructed "Mars Yard" which could be coordinated to make observations.



Picture of the JPL Mars Yard


The other talk discussed an existing Volcano monitoring sensor web in which involves ground sensors at Mount St. Helen's (and other networks) which can request observations from the EO1 Satellite. This is already deployed and indeed observations were automatically triggered during the Icelandic Volcano eruptions this year. The Volcano web already uses Multi-agent technology so seems very relevant to our work.

EDIT: One thing that we (at least the Liverpool end of the project) hadn't really clocked to, but which became very obvious listening to Chien's talks was that all these satellites have a complex schedule of observations they have to make. These present quite hard planning problems since the observations are constrained not only by the time the satellite is over the right bit of the world but also by data storage, uplink and downlink times and bandwidths and instrument heating. We've been talking about cases where a group of satellites need to move into some configuration in order to make an observation or, alternatively, where one satellite malfunctions (or one of its instruments malfunctions) and they have to change formation to compensate. Clearly we now need to at least think about how such reconfigurations would effect the large scale planning process, as well as the immediate observation at hand.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (ai)
The project I'm currently working on involves the programming of multiple satellites to work in coordination using multi-agent techniques. Steve Chien, from JPL, seems to be one of the key people when it comes to getting artificial intelligence technology onto satellite systems. Have gave about 10 talks at iSAIRAS. I'm not sure if that is typical of the field or a result of various belt-tightening measures (he wasn't the first author on many of the papers he was presenting and actually commented at one point on the difference in style between his various sets of slides). Something similar happened at this year's AAMAS where Medhi Dastani gave about six talks because his institution had refused to fund PhD students to travel to the conference.

Two of Chien's talks involved cooperation between a mixture of satellites and on-ground sensor systems, or robots. One was a very speculative piece of work ultimately aimed at seismic and atmospheric events (e.g. dust devils) on Mars. The practical work involved a small rover robot and a couple of mounted cameras in a constructed "Mars Yard" which could be coordinated to make observations.



Picture of the JPL Mars Yard


The other talk discussed an existing Volcano monitoring sensor web in which involves ground sensors at Mount St. Helen's (and other networks) which can request observations from the EO1 Satellite. This is already deployed and indeed observations were automatically triggered during the Icelandic Volcano eruptions this year. The Volcano web already uses Multi-agent technology so seems very relevant to our work.

EDIT: One thing that we (at least the Liverpool end of the project) hadn't really clocked to, but which became very obvious listening to Chien's talks was that all these satellites have a complex schedule of observations they have to make. These present quite hard planning problems since the observations are constrained not only by the time the satellite is over the right bit of the world but also by data storage, uplink and downlink times and bandwidths and instrument heating. We've been talking about cases where a group of satellites need to move into some configuration in order to make an observation or, alternatively, where one satellite malfunctions (or one of its instruments malfunctions) and they have to change formation to compensate. Clearly we now need to at least think about how such reconfigurations would effect the large scale planning process, as well as the immediate observation at hand.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/19088.html.

DEOS

Sep. 12th, 2010 05:14 pm
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (ai)
One of the applications we've been looking at on the project is the problem of orbital debris and how they might be cleaned up. One suggestion, apparently, is to put up a big wall of that forensic jelly stuff they fire bullets into in CSI - then all the debris would hit it and get stuck. Of course, then the problem would be the large wall of flying jelly with bits of broken satellite stuck to it!

Anyway the Germans are building a satellite with a grasping arm. They plan to launch this and test it's ability to grab hold of objects that aren't "co-operating" (i.e. aren't also working to some predefined docking sequence). As far as I can tell the mission objectives consist entirely of going up into orbit, grabbing stuff and then letting go of it again. They haven't any plans to do anything useful with anything they grab, they just want to see if they can. This project is called DEOS (Deutsche Orbitale Servicing Mission). They have some interesting problems to solve, for instance, in space, if you reach forwards with your arm then your body is likely to move backwards!

I'm unreasonably amused by the pictures of DEOS for reasons I can't quite put my finger on )

My preferred solution to the orbital debris is to arm a satellite with a laser and give it some kind of utility function. So it autonomously decides whether something is useless and shoots it if it is. As I keep asking what could possibly go wrong with that? Sadly the most obvious thing that could go wrong is that you'd just end up with lots of very small debris floating around, rather than big bits of debris, so it doesn't solve the problem at all.

DEOS

Sep. 12th, 2010 05:14 pm
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (ai)
One of the applications we've been looking at on the project is the problem of orbital debris and how they might be cleaned up. One suggestion, apparently, is to put up a big wall of that forensic jelly stuff they fire bullets into in CSI - then all the debris would hit it and get stuck. Of course, then the problem would be the large wall of flying jelly with bits of broken satellite stuck to it!

Anyway the Germans are building a satellite with a grasping arm. They plan to launch this and test it's ability to grab hold of objects that aren't "co-operating" (i.e. aren't also working to some predefined docking sequence). As far as I can tell the mission objectives consist entirely of going up into orbit, grabbing stuff and then letting go of it again. They haven't any plans to do anything useful with anything they grab, they just want to see if they can. This project is called DEOS (Deutsche Orbitale Servicing Mission). They have some interesting problems to solve, for instance, in space, if you reach forwards with your arm then your body is likely to move backwards!

I'm unreasonably amused by the pictures of DEOS for reasons I can't quite put my finger on )

My preferred solution to the orbital debris is to arm a satellite with a laser and give it some kind of utility function. So it autonomously decides whether something is useless and shoots it if it is. As I keep asking what could possibly go wrong with that? Sadly the most obvious thing that could go wrong is that you'd just end up with lots of very small debris floating around, rather than big bits of debris, so it doesn't solve the problem at all.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/19422.html.

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