A heterogeneous set of system components monitored by a varied suite of sensors and a particle-filtering (PF) framework, with the power and the flexibility to adapt to the different diagnostic and prognostic needs, has been developed. Both the diagnostic and prognostic tasks are formulated as a particle-filtering problem in order to explicitly represent and manage uncertainties in state estimation and remaining life estimation. Current state-of-the-art prognostic health management (PHM) systems are mostly centralized in nature, where all the processing is reliant on a single processor. This can lead to a loss in functionality in case of a crash of the central processor or monitor. Furthermore, with increases in the volume of sensor data as well as the complexity of algorithms, traditional centralized systems become — for a number of reasons — somewhat ungainly for successful deployment, and efficient distributed architectures can be more beneficial.
The distributed health management architecture is comprised of a network of smart sensor devices. These devices monitor the health of various subsystems or modules. They perform diagnostics operations and trigger prognostics operations based on user-defined thresholds and rules. The sensor devices, called computing elements (CEs), consist of a sensor, or set of sensors, and a communication device (i.e., a wireless transceiver beside an embedded processing element). The CE runs in either a diagnostic or prognostic operating mode. The diagnostic mode is the default mode where a CE monitors a given subsystem or component through a low-weight diagnostic algorithm. If a CE detects a critical condition during monitoring, it raises a flag. Depending on availability of resources, a networked local cluster of CEs is formed that then carries out prognostics and fault mitigation by efficient distribution of the tasks. It should be noted that the CEs are expected not to suspend their previous tasks in the prognostic mode. When the prognostics task is over, and after appropriate actions have been taken, all CEs return to their original default configuration.
Wireless technology-based implementation would ensure more flexibility in terms of sensor placement. It would also allow more sensors to be deployed because the overhead related to weights of wired systems is not present. Distributed architectures are furthermore generally robust with regard to recovery from node failures.
This work was done by Kai Goebel of Ames Research Center, and Sankalita Saha and Bhaskar Sha of Mission Critical Technologies, Inc.
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