Remote Agent: to boldly go where no AI system has gone before
Renewed motives for space exploration have inspired NASA to work toward the goal of establishing a virtual presence in space, through heterogeneous fleets of robotic explorers. Information technology, and Artificial Intelligence in particular, will play a central role in this endeavor by endowing these explorers with a form of computational intelligence that we call remote ayems. In this paper we describe the Remote Agent, a specific autonomous agent architecture based on the principles of
... -based programming, on-board deduction and search, and goaldirected closed-loop commanding, that takes a significant step toward enabling this future. This architecture addresses the unique characteristics of the spacecraft domain that require highly reliable autonomous operations over long periods of time with tight deadlines, resource constraints, and concurrent activity among tightly coupled subsystems. The Remote Agent integrates constraintbased temporal planning and scheduling, robust multi-threaded execution, and model-based mode identification and reconfiguration. The demonstration of the integrated system as an on-board controller for Deep Space One, NASA's first New Millennium mission, is scheduled for a period of a week in mid 1999. The development of the Remote Agent also provided the opportunity to reassess some of AI's conventional wisdom about the challenges of implementing embedded systems, tractable reasoning, and knowledge representation. We discuss these issues, and our often contrary experiences, throughout the paper. 0 1998 Published by Elsevier Science B.V.