IV&V Robotics

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IV&V Robotics focuses on advancing the IV&V analysts' domain expertise in robotic and autonomous systems, with the objective to enhance knowledge and contribute to the program's goal of assuring mission and safety critical software systems. The JSTAR laboratory supports this effort by providing robotic simulations and hardware for training the IV&V analysts, augmenting IV&V methods for unique robotics behaviors, and testing robotic applications.

Mission Support


Support for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) IV&V project primarily consisted of development and delivery of training materials focused on robotic capabilities applicable to the Curiosity rover. The following describes the classes held and topics covered.

Introduction to Robotics MSL Mobility & Manipulation MSL Stereo Vision & Visual Target Tracking

Introduction to Robotics (August, 2011)

MSL Mobility & Manipulation (November, 2011)

MSL Stereo Vision & Visual Target Tracking (January, 2012)

Fundamentals of robotics, NASA Robotics Technology Plan, current and future robotic missions, International Space Station (ISS) Mobile Servicing System (MSS), robotics primer
Lab: Robotic rover simulation (Swarm) andTankbot teleoperation


MSL robotic arm, forward kinematics, inverse kinematics, singularities, hardware architecture and components
Lab: Robotic arm forward and inverse kinematic control

MSL basic mobility, navigation, engineering camera, surface systems behavior and coordination
Lab: Simulation of teleoperation, turn in place and arc steer control primitives, and programmed sequences

MSL autonomous navigation and traversal, visual odometry, slip detection, hazard avoidance, camera pointing, visual target tracking, target loss detection
Lab: Color tracking and stereo vision ranging



Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) is a NASA mission that will study, and return back to Earth a sample of, an asteroid.

To support the OSIRIS-REx IV&V project, the robotics team has developed and presented training materials focused on one of the most critical events of the mission, the "Touch-And-Go" (TAG) sample collection event. This training was used to enhance the IV&V analysts' knowledge prior to beginning their analysis, giving them the foundation and confidence to verify that the software for these systems will operate reliably and safely. Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) Physical Model
Touch-And-Go (TAG) Simulation

Touch-And-Go (TAG) Simulation

Touch-And-Go (TAG) Simulation

Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) Physical Model

OSIRIS-REx uses a 3 degree of freedom robotic arm to obtain the regolith sample from the asteroid. To assist in understanding the TAGSAM and its kinematics, a scaled, manually controlled, model was created.

A 2-Dimensional simulation of the TAG event was developed as a tool for the IV&V analysts to experiment and test the dynamics and kinematics involved with this critical mission objective.

Robotic Platforms

 Mobile Robotic Platform

RoverX: Mobile Robotic Platform


  1. A robotic hands-on training tool for IV&V analysts
  2. An engineering test bed for:
    1. Evaluating traversal, navigation and manipulation software behaviors
    2. Exploring teleoperation and autonomy
  3. A target system for intern and graduate student assignments
  4. Demonstrations for visitors to the IV&V Facility
 Mobile Robotic Platform

 Mobile Robotic Platform
Stereo Vision Workbench


  • Stereo Vision System including pan and tilt capability
  • Software provides vision algorithms (e.g. color filtering, edge detection, blob detection and many others)
  • Developed training labs consisting of color tracking and stereo ranging

Quadcopter Aerial Platform

Potential applications:

  • Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) emulations
  • Aerial communications relay (e.g. rover to ground station)
  • Aerial reconnaissance (e.g. terrain mapping used for rover path planning)
  • Unmanned aerial vehicle flight software analysis & testing
Quadcopter Aerial Platform

Manipulation Workbench

Manipulation Workbench


  • 5 degree of freedom robotic arm
  • Forward and inverse kinematic solvers
  • Developed two software applications:
    1. Individual joint control
    2. Command sequence control (multiple joints concurrently)

Manipulation Workbench
Command Sequence Control GUI

Manipulation Workbench
Individual Joint Control GUI


The Planetary Surface Simulation (PSS) provides the NASA's IV&V Program an environment for testing and evaluation of robotic and autonomous applications. It is intended to inspire and engage students and the public in the advancement of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), while enhancing knowledge and contributing to the program's goal of assuring mission and safety critical software systems.

Landed September 23, 2011

Planetary Surface Simulation

Page Last Updated: January 10th, 2014
Page Editor: Michael Asbury