A software architecture has been developed to increase the safety and effectiveness with which tasks are performed by robots that are capable of functioning autonomously but sometimes are operated under control by humans. The control system of such a robot designed according to a prior software architecture has no way of taking account of how the environment has changed or what parts of a task were performed during an interval of control by a human, so that errors can occur (and, hence, safety and effectiveness jeopardized) when the human relinquishes control. The present architecture incorporates the control, task-planning, and sensor-based-monitoring features of typical prior autonomous-robot software architectures, plus features for updating information on the environment and planning of tasks during control by a human operator in order to enable the robot to track the actions taken by the operator and to be ready to resume autonomous operation with minimal error. The present architecture also provides a user interface that presents, to the operator, a variety of information on the internal state of the robot and the status of the task.

This work was done by David Kortenkamp of Metrica, Inc., for Johnson Space Center.