The Mission Simulation Toolkit (MST) is a flexible software system for autonomy research. It was developed as part of the Mission Simulation Facility (MSF) project that was started in 2001 to facilitate the development of autonomous planetary robotic missions. Autonomy is a key enabling factor for robotic exploration. There has been a large gap between autonomy software (at the research level), and software that is ready for insertion into near-term space missions. The MST bridges this gap by providing a simulation framework and a suite of tools for supporting research and maturation of autonomy.

MST uses a distributed framework based on the High Level Architecture (HLA) standard. A key feature of the MST framework is the ability to plug in new models to replace existing ones with the same services. This enables significant simulation flexibility, particularly the mixing and control of fidelity level. In addition, the MST provides automatic code generation from robot interfaces defined with the Unified Modeling Language (UML), methods for maintaining synchronization across distributed simulation systems, XML-based robot description, and an environment server. Finally, the MSF supports a number of third-party products including dynamic models and terrain databases. Although the communication objects and some of the simulation components that are provided with this toolkit are specifically designed for terrestrial surface rovers, the MST can be applied to any other domain, such as aerial, aquatic, or space.

This project was developed by Gregory Pisanich, Lorenzo Flueckiger, Christian Neukom, Mike Wagner, Eric Buchanan, and Laura Plice of QSS Group, Inc. for Ames Research Center. For further information, click here  or contact the Ames Technology Partnerships Division at (650) 604-2954. ARC-14932-1.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the September, 2007 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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