BREVARD COUNTY • Melbourne, Florida – Florida Tech recently won a $250,000 US Space Force contract to support a debris removal project known as Orbital Prime, operated by SpaceWERX, the US Space Force’s engineering arm. did.
Madhur Tiwari, assistant professor of aerospace, physics and space sciences and director of The Autonomy Lab, will work with startups on the project.
This study investigates spacecraft automation using a high-fidelity simulator. While the project is focused on cleaning up space debris, Tiwari said the technology could also be used for other uses, such as automated repairs, docking, or when multiple spacecraft are working together. said.
As more spacecraft are used, the need for machines that can perform tasks unsupervised increases. To meet that demand, researchers such as Tiwari are studying the positions of these machines once they are in space and how those positions affect how efficiently they perform tasks.
“Let’s say I’m 10 miles away from you. I might be 10.1. I might be 10.5. I’m not actually exactly 10, right? The cars are very close together.” This is a problem when you consider that there are people,” Tiwari said.
“This becomes a problem when spacecraft are very close to each other. So we don’t want to be very uncertain.”
The contract will allow them to understand how to assess navigation and operational uncertainties in real time.
“We want to quantify that uncertainty. We want to know, okay, I think we’re in this bubble. We’re in this range. he said. “We want to see where we are within this range so that we can properly plan the rest of the mission.”
This research also begins a new era at The Autonomy Lab. With the goal of machine learning-based robotics and control, the lab wants drones, quadcopters and spacecraft to do things more independently.
Formerly based in the university’s Advanced Manufacturing and Innovative Design Center, the lab is now located in the Olin Physical Science Building in the space formerly used by the Orion Lab. Tiwari has a total of 29 students, including eight of him in the master’s program and three candidates in the doctoral program.
Tiwari grew up watching NASA’s achievements in space and was fascinated by the imaginative worlds of Star Wars, Star Trek and other sci-fi entertainment.
So merging machine learning and aerospace was a natural step for him. Combining it with his interest in human function, his research goals concern the natural evolution of engineering and discovery.
“I’ve always been interested in emulating the human mindset,” said Tiwari.
“Fundamentally, we are perfect machines in terms of how we do our daily tasks, how we reach our goals, how we navigate our surroundings. The most exciting part for me is how close we can get to building human-like machines.”
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