Information Science

Computationally Lightweight Air-Traffic-Control Simulation

This algorithm simulates ATC functions for a busy airport.An algorithm for computationally lightweight simulation of automated airtraffic control (ATC) at a busy airport has been derived. The algorithm is expected to serve as the basis for development of software that would be incorporated into flight-simulator software, the ATC component of which is not yet capable of handling realistic airport loads. Software based on this algorithm could also be incorporated into other computer programs that simulate a variety of scenarios for purposes of training or amusement.

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Generating Solid Models From

Topographical Data Topographical data are converted into forms useable by rapid-prototyping machines.A method of generating solid models of terrain involves the conversion of topographical data into a form useable by a rapid-prototyping (RP) machine. The method was developed to enable the use of the RP machine to make solid models of Martian terrain from Mars Orbiter laser-altimeter topographical data. The method is equally applicable to the generation of models of the terrains of other astronomical bodies, including other planets, asteroids, and Earth.

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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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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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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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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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Domain Compilation for Embedded Real-Time Planning

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

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