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Service Oriented Robotic Architecture for Space Robotics: Design, Testing, and Lessons Learned



This paper presents the lessons learned from six years of experiments with planetary rover prototypes running the Service Oriented Robotic Architecture (SORA) developed by the Intelligent Robotics Group (IRG) at the NASA Ames Research Center. SORA relies on proven software engineering methods and technologies applied to space robotics. Based on a service oriented architecture and robust middleware, SORA encompasses onboard robot control and a full suite of software tools necessary for remotely operated exploration missions. SORA has been field-tested in numerous scenarios of robotic lunar and planetary exploration. The experiments conducted by IRG with SORA exercise a large set of the constraints encountered in space applications: remote robotic assets, flight-relevant science instruments, distributed operations, high network latencies, and unreliable or intermittent communication links. In this paper, we present the results of these field tests in regard to the developed architecture, and we discuss its benefits and limitations.