Autonomous Software from NASA Freely Available Online

NASA software library

NASA software library

Many of NASA’s computational innovations were developed to help explore space, but the public can download them for applications  here on Earth. The agency’s latest software catalog has hundreds of popular programs, as well as more than 180 new ones, all available for free download. A search for “autonomous air vehicles” in the database returned four pages of results, comprising 47 different software programs. A sub-selection from this group appears below, with live links to the appropriate pages.

“From operations here on Earth to missions to the Moon and Mars, software is integral to all that NASA does,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “The good news is this technology is available to the public for free. The software suited for satellites, astronauts, engineers, and scientists as it is applied and adapted across industries and businesses is a testament to the extensive value NASA brings to the United States – and the world.”

Containing more than 800 programs, the NASA software catalog features categories such as system testing, aeronautics, data and image processing, autonomous systems, and more. The software is also continuously updated in a searchable repository online.

A sampling of those relevant to autonomous air vehicles:

Autonomous eXplorer Control System (AXCS)

AXCS enables smartphones and other mobile devices to be utilized as a ground-based test bed for operations in extreme environments. For NASA, the technology is currently being used to evaluate hardware for balloon launches. The software’s tool kits provide environmental and situational measurements, command and data handing (CD&H) functions, events timing, data logging, and communications with external devices.

Autonomous Operating System – Diagnostic Reasoner

Diagnostic Reasoner (DR) is a research tool which uses a dependency matrix (D-matrix) approach to perform diagnosis on a target system. It is a app designed to run with NASA’s Core Flight Software (cFS) system. DR uses a model-based approach to diagnosis, and will provide runtime fault detection and fault identification of systems.


Ndarts is designed as a general purpose dynamics library that can be used for the modeling of robotic platforms, space vehicles, molecular dynamics and such applications. All NASA space vehicles use such capabilities.

AprilNav uses printable 2D fiduciary markers, a HD camera, and software running on a single board computer (SBC) to create a scalable, and accurate system for vehicular autonomous navigation and localization.
TRAC is an extensible software platform that supports next-generation air traffic concept investigations. The software enables visualization of current-day airspace elements; graphical creation of new elements; and runway-to-runway agent-based simulation and analysis of air traffic concepts.
GEONS processes data from standard GPS receivers, communication equipment, and/or attitude sensors to produce accurate, absolute, relative onboard navigation solutions in real time. Navigation products from GEONS support additional autonomous functions, including onboard maneuver control, science viewing, and relative navigation for formation keeping.