NASA selects Scientific Systems for formation flying research

January 22, 2009 by  

WOBURN, MA, January 22, 2009 – NASA today awarded Scientific Systems a Phase I SBIR contract to develop control algorithms that would enable groups of unmanned aircraft to fly in formation.  The initial application serves as a critical element of NASA’s search for Earthlike planets, but once developed the capability could be extended to all types of unmanned platforms.

Formation flying is a critical element in NASA’s search for Earthlike planets. Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF), NASA’s first space-based mission to directly observe planets outside our own solar system, will rely on formation flying to achieve the functionality and benefits of a large instrument using multiple lower cost smaller spacecraft. Aqua mission of the Goddard Space Flight Center will use formation flying concepts (“A-Train”) to collaborate with multiple Earth observing spacecraft. The proposed techniques are directly applicable to those missions.

Among non-NASA applications are several current ongoing projects by the military. Department of Defense agencies, including DARPA, are focused on developing the next generation of collaborating and formation flying Unmanned Vehicles (UAVs, USVs, UUVs etc.) which can use the analysis methods and tools developed under this effort for performing trade-off studies for designing distributed multi-agent networks.

Being funded to do this work moves Scientific Systems closer to its goal of enabling intelligent autonomy for unmanned systems by developing one aspect necessary for a single operator to be able to control many aircraft.

About Scientific Systems Company, Inc.
Scientific Systems Company, Inc. (SSCI) pioneers products and technologies that provide the intelligence for unmanned ground, air and maritime vehicles to autonomously and collaboratively accomplish missions in difficult environments. A leading developer of technology solutions for defense and industrial suppliers, SSCI is one of the top 20 recipients of Small Business Innovation Research awards in the U.S. and is recognized by the U.S. Navy and Army for its record of successful technology transitions. A privately held company based in Massachusetts, SSCI collaborates with a network of defense industry prime contractors and consultants, drawing on an accumulated investment of over $150 million in advanced research and development funding.

Contact:
Greg Moeller
(781) 933-5355 x295
gmoeller@ssci.com

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