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Monitoring robotic boats from the OPS Lab
08.03.2009 12:41 PM
Jeff Norris

By Jeff Norris
Supervisor, Planning Software Systems Group

Last week my team had the last-minute opportunity to participate in the field trial of an interesting project, the Telesupervised Adaptive Ocean Sensor Fleet (TAOSF), a NOAA-funded effort to develop semiautonomous boats to monitor harmful algal blooms, which are simple ocean organisms that grow very quickly and release toxins that can harm marine life and cause illnesses in humans as well. The robotic boats and their instrumentation are developed in a partnership between Carnegie Mellon University, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Wallops Flight Facility, and JPL.

Dr. Mark Powell, a member of my team who supports the operation of many emerging robotic systems at JPL, was asked if he could put together a tool to remotely monitor the boats during their field trial. The catch? He had less than 24 hours to do it! Fortunately, extremely fast adaptation to new robotic systems is something that my team has designed our tools for. Mark started with our Telemetry Canvas, a tool that lets you draw out a diagram of the various things you’d like to monitor about a robotic system and then connect that diagram to live telemetry. After that he dropped in our map view along with some imagery of the field trial area – a bay on the east coast. 5 hours after he got the call, we were ready for the field trial. I’ve included a screenshot of the final interface.

Screenshot of the Maestro interface for TAOSF, including telemetry canvases and map

We monitored the test from the OPS Lab all morning, recording the data for later study. The TAOSF people were very happy with what Mark put together – perhaps we’ll have the opportunity to work with them more in the future.

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