In this article, we will present an overview of the Coupled Layered Architecture for Robotic Autonomy. CLARAty develops a framework for generic and reusable robotic components that can be adapted to a number of heterogeneous robot platforms. It also provides a framework that will simplify the integration of new technologies and enable the
comparison of various elements. CLARAty consists of two distinct layers: a Functional Layer and a Decision Layer. The Functional Layer defines the various abstractions of the system and adapts the abstract components to real or simulated devices. It provides a framework and the algorithms for low- and mid-level autonomy. The Decision Layer provides the system's high-level autonomy, which reasons about global resources and mission constraints. The Decision
Layer accesses information from the Functional Layer at multiple levels of granularity. In this article, we will also present some of the challenges in developing interoperable software for various rover platforms. Examples will include challenges from the locomotion and manipulation domains
NASA exploration missions to Mars, initiated by the Mars Pathfinder mission in July 1997, will continue over the next decade. The missions require challenging innovations in robot design and improvements in autonomy to meet ambitious objectives under tight budget and time constraints. The authors are developing design tools, component technologies and capabilities to address these needs for manipulation with robots for planetary exploration. The specific developments are: (1) a software analysis tool to reduce robot design iteration cycles and optimize on design solutions, (2) new piezoelectric ultrasonic motors for light-weight and high torque actuation in planetary environments, (3) use of advanced materials and structures for strong and light-weight robot arms and (4) intelligent camera-image coordinated autonomous control of robot arms for instrument placement and sample acquisition from a rover vehicle.