HURON solves the problem of how to optimize a plan and schedule for assigning multiple agents to a temporal sequence of actions (e.g., science tasks). Developed as a generic planning and scheduling tool, HURON has been used to optimize space mission surface operations. The tool has also been used to analyze lunar architectures for a variety of surface operational scenarios in order to maximize return on investment and productivity. These scenarios include numerous science activities performed by a diverse set of agents: hu mans, teleoperated rovers, and auton omous rovers. Once given a set of agents, activities, resources, resource constraints, temporal constraints, and dependencies, HURON computes an optimal schedule that meets a specified goal (e.g., maximum productivity or minimum time), subject to the constraints.

HURON performs planning and scheduling optimization as a graph search in state-space with forward progression. Each node in the graph contains a state “instance.” Starting with the initial node, a graph is automatically constructed with new successive nodes of each new state to explore. The optimization uses a set of pre-conditions and postconditions to create the children states.

The Python language was adopted to not only enable more agile development, but to also allow the domain experts to easily define their optimization models. A graphical user interface was also developed to facilitate real-time search information feedback and interaction by the operator in the search optimization process.

The HURON package has many potential uses in the fields of Operations Research and Management Science where this technology applies to many commercial domains requiring optimization to reduce costs. For example, optimizing a fleet of transportation truck routes, aircraft flight scheduling, and other route-planning scenarios involving multiple agent task optimization would all benefit by using HURON.

This work was done by Hook Hua, Joseph J. Mrozinski, Alberto Elfes, Virgil Adumitroaie, Kacie E. Shelton, Jeffrey H. Smith, William P. Lincoln, and Charles R. Weisbin of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This software is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Daniel Broderick of the California Institute of Technology at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. NPO-47573

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the November, 2012 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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