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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/K004638/1
Title: Gobal - engagement with NASA JPL and ESA in Robotics, Brain Computer Interfaces, and Secure Adaptive Systems for Space Applications - RoBoSAS
Principal Investigator: McDonald-Maier, Professor K
Other Investigators:
Poli, Professor R Fasli, Professor M Sepulveda, Professor F
Howells, Professor G Hu, Professor H
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
California Institute of Technology
Department: Computer Sci and Electronic Engineering
Organisation: University of Essex
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 April 2012 Ends: 31 March 2013 Value (£): 473,812
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Aerospace, Defence and Marine
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
The project brings together complementary expertise from several leading research groups of the University of Essex, namely Robotics, Brain-Computer-Interfaces (BCI), Computational Intelligence and the Embedded and Intelligent Systems group to address significant challenges in autonomous systems for space applications. It seeks to significantly enhance and widen an existing collaboration for the design of autonomous embedded systems, robotics,evolutionary computing and BCI with the California Institute of Technology / NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, USA and the European Space Agency (ESA), in utilising the combination of a dedicated research programme combined with networking activities, including short-term and longer exchange visits of both academic staff and researchers, student placements and joint workshops to be held as part of conferences.

In order to achieve our primary aim of engineering a robust and reliable autonomous robotic systems capable of adapting to a rapidly changing dynamic environment, we will explore employing hybrid techniques that are better able to face the issues emerging from space applications than any technique in its own right. For example, very limited work has been carried out to use the concept of empirical non-intrusive monitoring that drives the self-healing process of an embedded robotic system that operates in a potentially hostile environment, such as space. This project will explore this.

A further major factor to address is that of secure communications. Security of communication is of paramount importance in space applications. The scientific impact and the investment associated with them are simply too great to risk an unauthorised breaking into a satellite or a spacecraft, or remotely taking a rover for a joy ride on a planet. While data encryption techniques are now highly sophisticated and well established, encryption itself cannot necessarily protect against fraudulent data manipulation when the security of encryption keys cannot be absolutely guaranteed. So, additionally, the programme will explore enhancing the significant existing research collaboration between the partners in deriving encryption keys directly from properties of digital systems (ICmetrics, this term stems originally from NASA JPL).

Also, the possibility of controlling external devices using brain-computer interface technology could have a tremendous influence on strategic plans for future space missions. Indeed there is interest both at ESA and JPL in this area. Essex has historically been leading in this area. The Essex BCI group was one of the three partner institutions who were contracted by the European Space Agency in 2006 to produce a critical review of non-invasive BCI with a look at future perspectives for space applications. This study was one of the first of its kind. The possibility of using BCI in space applications has since been explored by a small number of studies. In this project we will explore a number of avenues with a top quality research team of BCI researchers, computer scientists and space experts.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Project URL: http://www.robosas.org.uk/
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.sx.ac.uk