The ROPE project's purpose is to reason about the operational envelopes of NASA's Mission Data System (MDS).
Our assumption is that no engineered artifact can be built to meet all possible environmental conditions. Instead, cost/benefit studies must be done to determine what the "operational envelope" will be of the artifact. The artifact should work dependably in its envelope. If the environment becomes extreme, moving it outside of its envelope, the artifact can be said to be in an undependable state, one it is not engineered to handle.
This project is funded partially by a National Science Foundation grant. The NSF program solicitation is found here: Highly Dependable Computing and Communication Systems Research (HDCCSR).
The Roper project is an offshoot of a rover project at USC called SCRover. SCRover is one of the MDS testbeds set up by NASA. More information about MDS and the SCRover program can be found here: SCRover Testbed. In essence, the Roper projects plugs in the ER1 rover for the SCRover, and the iSim package for the USC player/stage package. We continue to share notes with the SCRover team on the current testbed application, i.e., wall-following.
MDS is NASA and JPL's answer to creating a software framework that can be used and reused in future unmanned space exploration missions. MDS is scheduled to control autonomous rovers on Mars in 2009. Currently there are no public NASA links to the MDS project.
As fun background, here are several autonomous-vehicle projects that are in the brainstorming stage at JPL.
Go to Experiments for more info about the project...