Software

Real-Time Principal-Component Analysis

A recently written computer program implements dominant-element-based gradient descent and dynamic initial learning rate (DOGEDYN), which was described in “Method of Real-Time Principal-Component Analysis” (NPO-40034) NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 29, No. 1 (January 2005), page 59. To recapitulate: DOGEDYN is a method of sequential principal-component analysis (PCA) suitable for such applications as data compression and extraction of features from sets of data. In DOGEDYN, input data are represented as a sequence of vectors acquired at sampling times. The learning algorithm in DOGEDYN involves sequential extraction of principal vectors by means of a gradient descent in which only the dominant element is used at each iteration. Each iteration includes updating of elements of a weight matrix by amounts proportional to a dynamic initial learning rate chosen to increase the rate of convergence by compensating for the energy lost through the previous extraction of principal components. In comparison with a prior method of gradient-descent-based sequential PCA, DOGEDYN involves less computation and offers a greater rate of learning convergence. The sequential DOGEDYN computations require less memory than would parallel computations for the same purpose. The DOGEDYN software can be executed on a personal computer.

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Fuzzy/Neural Software Estimates Costs of Rocket-Engine Tests

The Highly Accurate Cost Estimating Model (HACEM) is a software system for estimating the costs of testing rocket engines and components at Stennis Space Center. HACEM is built on a foundation of adaptive-network-based fuzzy inference systems (ANFIS) — a hybrid software concept that combines the adaptive capabilities of neural networks with the ease of development and additional benefits of fuzzy-logic-based systems. In ANFIS, fuzzy inference systems are trained by use of neural networks. HACEM includes selectable subsystems that utilize various numbers and types of inputs, various numbers of fuzzy membership functions, and various input-preprocessing techniques. The inputs to HACEM are parameters of specific tests or series of tests. These parameters include test type (component or engine test), number and duration of tests, and thrust level(s) (in the case of engine tests). The ANFIS in HACEM are trained by use of sets of these parameters, along with costs of past tests. Thereafter, the user feeds HACEM a simple input text file that contains the parameters of a planned test or series of tests, the user selects the desired HACEM subsystem, and the subsystem processes the parameters into an estimate of cost(s).

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Spacecraft Antenna Clusters for High EIRP

Several documents in a collection discuss a proposal to use clusters of appropriately phased, relatively small microwave antennas to obtain high levels of effective isotropically radiated power (EIRP) for transmission of data from spacecraft to Earth during exploration of distant planets. The advantages of such a cluster, relative to a single larger antenna of equivalent EIRP, would include the following:

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Autonomous Navigation by a Mobile Robot

ROAMAN is a computer program for autonomous navigation of a mobile robot on a long (as much as hundreds of meters) traversal of terrain. Developed for use aboard a robotic vehicle (rover) exploring the surface of a remote planet, ROAMAN could also be adapted to similar use on terrestrial mobile robots. ROAMAN implements a combination of algorithms for (1) long-range path planning based on images acquired by mast-mounted, wide-baseline stereoscopic cameras, and (2) local path planning based on images acquired by body-mounted, narrow-baseline stereoscopic cameras. The long-range path-planning algorithm autonomously generates a series of waypoints that are passed to the local pathplanning algorithm, which plans obstacleavoiding legs between the waypoints. Both the long- and short-range algorithms use an occupancy-grid representation in computations to detect obstacles and plan paths. Maps that are maintained by the long- and short-range portions of the software are not shared because substantial localization errors can accumulate during any long traverse. ROAMAN is not guaranteed to generate an optimal shortest path, but does maintain the safety of the rover.

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Software Would Largely Automate Design of Kalman Filter

Embedded Navigation Filter Automatic Designer (ENFAD) is a computer program being developed to automate the most difficult tasks in designing embedded software to implement a Kalman filter in a navigation system. The most difficult tasks are selection of error states of the filter and tuning of filter parameters, which are timeconsuming trial-and-error tasks that require expertise and rarely yield optimum results. An optimum selection of error states and filter parameters depends on navigation-sensor and vehicle characteristics, and on filter processing time. ENFAD would include a simulation module that would incorporate all possible error states with respect to a given set of vehicle and sensor characteristics. The first of two iterative optimization loops would vary the selection of error states until the best filter performance was achieved in Monte Carlo simulations. For a fixed selection of error states, the second loop would vary the filter parameter values until an optimal performance value was obtained. Design constraints would be satisfied in the optimization loops. Users would supply vehicle and sensor test data that would be used to refine digital models in ENFAD. Filter processing time and filter accuracy would be computed by ENFAD.

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Predicting Flows of Rarefied Gases

DSMC Analysis Code (DAC) is a flexible, highly automated, easy-to-use computer program for predicting flows of rarefied gases — especially flows of upper-atmospheric, propulsion, and vented gases impinging on spacecraft surfaces. DAC implements the direct simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) method, which is widely recognized as standard for simulating flows at densities so low that the continuumbased equations of computational fluid dynamics are invalid. DAC enables users to model complex surface shapes and boundary conditions quickly and easily. The discretization of a flow field into computational grids is automated, thereby relieving the user of a traditionally time-consuming task while ensuring (1) appropriate refinement of grids throughout the computational domain, (2) determination of optimal settings for temporal discretization and other simulation parameters, and (3) satisfaction of the fundamental constraints of the method. In so doing, DAC ensures an accurate and efficient simulation. In addition, DAC can utilize parallel processing to reduce computation time. The domain decomposition needed for parallel processing is completely automated, and the software employs a dynamic load-balancing mechanism to ensure optimal parallel efficiency throughout the simulation.

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Centralized Planning for Multiple Exploratory Robots

A computer program automatically generates plans for a group of robotic vehicles (rovers) engaged in geological exploration of terrain. The program rapidly generates multiple command sequences that can be executed simultaneously by the rovers. Starting from a set of high-level goals, the program creates a sequence of commands for each rover while respecting hardware constraints and limitations on resources of each rover and of hardware (e.g., a radio communication terminal) shared by all the rovers. First, a separate model of each rover is loaded into a centralized planning subprogram. The centralized planning software uses the models of the rovers plus an iterative repair algorithm to resolve conflicts posed by demands for resources and by constraints associated with the all the rovers and the shared hardware. During repair, heuristics are used to make planning decisions that will result in solutions that will be better and will be found faster than would otherwise be possible. In particular, techniques from prior solutions of the multiple-traveling-salesmen problem are used as heuristics to generate plans in which the paths taken by the rovers to assigned scientific targets are shorter than they would otherwise be.

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