Title of Presentation: CLARAty: A Collaborative Software for Advancing Robotic Technologies

Primary (Corresponding) Author: Issa A.D. Nesnas

Organization of Primary Author: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory


Abstract: Within the NASA robotics community, and possibly within the research community, the majority of robotic software is designed and built from scratch for each new robot. To date, it may have been easier and more cost effective to do so. However, as the need for more advanced robotic capabilities for future science missions increase, it becomes more effective to leverage prior and disparate robotic technology investments.  Advancing state-of-the-art in robotic technology involves a close collaboration among NASA centers, universities and industrial partners.  Effective leveraging of multiple efforts requires a common framework for the development, integration, deployment and use of technologies across institutions. 

Over the past decade, the NASA Science Directorate, through its Mars Technology Program, developed the CLARAty robotic software framework.  CLARAty stands for Coupled-Layer Architecture for Robotic Autonomy.  It is an integrated framework for reusable robotic software that enables the integration of advanced technologies from NASA programs.  CLARAty has been adapted and deployed on multiple robotic platforms that NASA developed over the past decade. Examples of such platforms include the Rocky and FIDO rover series at JPL, the K9 rover at NASA Ames Research Center, and commercial-off-the-shelf rovers at Carnegie Mellon and University of Minnesota. In addition to deployments of the software on physical platforms, this software has been deployed on high-fidelity simulators that were used for validation of technologies for the flight missions.

This paper describes the challenges of developing reusable robotic software across institutions and highlights the progress that has been made over the past six years in developing a common framework, maturing robotic technologies, and validating technologies for flight missions.  We will describe the framework and provide examples of technologies there were integrated, validated, and migrated to the MER mission.  The paper will cover topics in the area of mobility and manipulation, perception, navigation and planning.

Because this generic framework was designed to support future technologies, it is applicable to systems outside the Mars Technology Program.  These systems include aerial vehicles that support the Solar System Exploration Program or legged vehicles that support the Lunar Exploration Program.