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Domain Compilation for Embedded Real-Time Planning

Robustness is increased at the price of a moderate increase in complexity.

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Method of Real-Time Principal-Component Analysis

Hardware can be simplified. Dominant element-based gradient descent and dynamic initial learning rate (DOGEDYN) is a method of sequential principal component analysis (PCA) that is well suited for such applications as data compression and extraction of features from sets of data. In comparison with a prior method of gradient-descent based sequential PCA, this method offers a greater rate of learning convergence. Like the prior method, DOGEDYN can be implemented in software. However, the main advantage of DOGEDYN over the prior method lies in the facts that it requires less computation and can be implemented in simpler hardware. It should be possible to implement DOGEDYN in compact, lowpower, very-large-scale integrated (VLSI) circuitry that could process data in real time.

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Insect-Inspired Flight Control for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Relatively simple sensory and computing systems would generate remarkably effective control in flight to allow close-up approach to hard terrain. Flight-control and navigation systems inspired by the structure and function of the visual system and brain of insects have been proposed for a class of developmental miniature robotic aircraft called “biomorphic flyers” described earlier in “Development of Biomorphic Flyers” (), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 28, No. 11 (November 2004), page 54. These form a subset of biomorphic explorers, which, as reported in several articles in past issues of NASA Tech Briefs [“Biomorphic Explorers” (), Vol. 22, No. 9 (September 1998), page 71; “Bio-Inspired Engineering of Exploration Systems” (), Vol. 27, No. 5 (May 2003), page 54; and “Cooperative Lander-Surface/Aerial Microflyer Missions for Mars Exploration” (), Vol. 28, No. 5 (May 2004), page 36], are proposed small robots, equipped with microsensors and communication systems, that would incorporate crucial functions of mobility, adaptability, and even cooperative behavior. These functions are inherent to biological organisms but are challenging frontiers for technical systems. Biomorphic flyers could be used on Earth or remote planets to explore otherwise difficult or impossible to reach sites. An example of an exploratory task of search/surveillance functions currently being tested is to obtain high-resolution aerial imagery, using a variety of miniaturized electronic cameras.

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Semantic Metrics for Analysis of Software

These metrics represent a more human oriented view of software. A recently conceived suite of object-oriented software metrics focus is on semantic aspects of software, in contradistinction to traditional software metrics, which focus on syntactic aspects of software. Semantic metrics represent a more human-oriented view of software than do syntactic metrics. The semantic metrics of a given computer program are calculated by use of the output of a knowledge-based analysis of the program, and are substantially more representative of software quality and more readily comprehensible from a human perspective than are the syntactic metrics.

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Development of Software for a Lidar-Altimeter Processor

A report describes the development of software for a digital processor that operates in conjunction with a finite-impulse-response (FIR) chip in a spaceborne lidar altimeter.Processing is started by a laserfire interrupt signal that is repeated at intervals of 25 ms. For the purpose of discriminating between returns from the ground and returns from such things as trees, buildings, and clouds, the software is required to scan digitized lidar-return data in reverse of the acquisition sequence in order to distinguish the last return pulse from within a commanded ground-return range window. The digitized waveform information within this range window is filtered through 6 matched filters, in the hardware electronics, in order to maximize the probability of finding echoes from sloped or rough terrain and minimize the probability of selecting cloud returns. From the data falling past the end of the range window, there is obtained a noise baseline that is used to calculate a threshold value for each filter. The data from each filter is analyzed by a complex weighting scheme and the filter with the greatest weight is selected. A region around the peak of the ground-return pulse associated with the selected filter is placed in telemetry, as well as information on its location, height, and other characteristics. The software requires many uplinked parameters as input. Included in the report is a discussion of major software-development problems posed by the design of the FIR chip and the need for the software to complete its process within 20 ms to fit within the overall 25-ms cycle.

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Algorithm Determines Wind Speed and Direction FromVenturi-Sensor Data

Speed and direction are calculated from the spatial distribution of pressure readings. An algorithm computes the velocity of wind from the readings of an instrument like the one described in “Three-Dimensional Venturi Sensor for Measuring Extreme Winds” (KSC-12435), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 27, No. 9 (September 2003), page 32. To recapitulate: The sensor has no moving parts and is a compact, rugged means of measuring wind vectors having magnitudes of as much as 300 mph (134 m/s). The sensor includes a Venturi gap bounded by a curved upper and a curved lower surface that are axisymmetric with respect to a vertical axis and mirror-symmetric with respect to a horizontal midplane. One of the curved surfaces is instrumented with multiple ports for measuring dynamic pressures (see figure). The sensor also incorporates auxiliary sensors for measuring temperature, relative humidity, and static atmospheric pressure.

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Feature-Identification and Data-Compression Software

A report discusses the continuing development of Windows Interface for Nominal Displacement Selection (WINDS), a computer program for automated analysis of images of the Sun and planets acquired by scientific instruments aboard spacecraft. WINDS is intended to afford capabilities for identification of features, measurement of displacements and velocities, analysis of terrain and of atmospheres, and synthesis of animation sequences of images of terrains and atmospheres from small sets of samples by use of velocity based interpolation. A major element of WINDS will be a nonlinear correlator capable of tracking small features in complex image sequences. For dynamic image sequences, the correlator will enable compression of data by factors >100. In processing image data, WINDS will take account of such factors as texture in image data, rotation of features during measurement intervals, effects of viewing and solar illumination angles, and vertical structures of atmospheres. WINDS will also take account of positions, aiming directions, and fields of view of cameras to determine three-dimensional feature structures by use of triangulation and stereoscopic analysis techniques.

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