Autonomous framework protocols for Space Missions



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2020 International Conference on Environmental Systems


The inherent risk in human space operations has restrained the application and development of automation and AI, in contrast to unmanned missions, where autonomous protocols are widely employed, proving to be essential for accomplishing mission objectives. As ventures in human space exploration advances in complexity, technologies in robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI) become a fundamental capability to achieve safer and more economically feasible missions. So far, automated robots have been used mainly in serial, repetitive tasks, and since they are typically designed at the very early phases of the mission, this obscures their adaptability to future deviations from original mission requirements. This adaptability is especially crucial during mission operations when unexpected issues are not only common but inevitable. Even with additional AI capabilities in robotic systems, its benefits only depend on hardware limitations. Traditionally, the crew has been in charge of responding to unexpected problems during the mission. The assumption that the crew will have all the necessary tools to resolve unpredicted problems in space can put the crew and valuable assets at risk. This paper outlines a concept of scalable infrastructure and methodology for standardization and optimization of mission hardware and software. It also presents a possible behavioral model for decision-making protocols of autonomous framework in the context of human spaceflight. This model describes a new approach in applications of automated systems and AI. The intent is to increase crew efficiency, thereby reduce psychological load and training time, lower the risks and costs of the mission while providing an efficient and sustainable approach to space operations.


The proceedings for the 2020 International Conference on Environmental Systems were published from July 31, 2020. The technical papers were not presented in person due to the inability to hold the event as scheduled in Lisbon, Portugal because of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Vittorio Netti, Space Astronomy Technical Committee (SATC), Italy
Tara Bisharat, Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA), USA
ICES405: Human/Robotics System Integration


Artificial Intelligence, Automation, Mission Architecture, Robotics, Space Operations