Bosch in North America and Astrobotic Technology Inc. have announced a research partnership to send experimental sensor technology to the International Space Station (ISS) as early as May 2019.
Bosch’s SoundSee technology is a deep audio analytics capability that uses a custom array of microphones and machine learning to analyse information contained in emitted noises.
SoundSee’s analytics will investigate whether audio data from equipment could be learned and understood using advanced software, such that it could be used to improve the operations of the ISS.
“Machines, such as motors and pumps, emit noise signatures while they operate,” said Dr. Samarjit Das, principal researcher and SoundSee project lead at Bosch’s Research and Technology Center in Pittsburgh.
“Our SoundSee AI (artificial intelligence) algorithm uses machine learning to analyse these subtle acoustic clues and determine whether a machine, or even a single component of a machine, needs to be repaired or replaced.”
The SoundSee payload will ride on NASA’s Astrobee Robot, an autonomous free-flying vehicle capable of navigating throughout the ISS. The NASA Ames Research Center’s Astrobee team has also provided support for ground testing.
“The support from NASA has been critical,” said Dr. Andrew Horchler, Astrobotic research scientist and director of Future Missions and Technology. “They have provided feedback and requirements that have helped us design our operational plans and understand the challenges of sending a hardware payload to the ISS.”
On the ISS, researchers will collect data and send it to Earth for Bosch to study. As research progresses, the team expects to update the software or adjust operational routines to improve data-collection results.
“This data should allow us to gain insights into the state of the space station,” said Jon Macoskey, research engineer intern at Bosch. “Our long-term goal is to show that we can detect anomalies in the operation of the station and return that intelligence to crewmembers or ground control.”
The research has promise for numerous terrestrial applications and other crewed spacecraft, including missions to the Moon and Mars.
“For some time, Bosch has been interested in using audio analytics to monitor critical machines and equipment, such as car engines or HVAC systems,” said Dr. Joseph Szurley, a Bosch research scientist on the project.
“The ISS will allow us to study how these techniques can extend to even more challenging and unique environments.”