Optimus mine: NASA aims to improve accident analysis

NASA has awarded a grant to Optimus Corp. to develop a data-mining system that will help analysts identify the subtle human factors involved in aerospace accidents.

The Small Business Innovation Research grant is worth less than $100,000, although the exact amount is undisclosed. By the end of the year, NASA will decide whether to award the company a Phase Two grant that could be worth up to $1 million and would pay for further development and prototyping of the system.

Optimus is codeveloping the system along with the City College of New York, with support from Richard Blomberg, president of Dunlap and Associates Inc. and former chairman of the NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel.

According to Optimus officials, aerospace analysts have to consider information on human actions that contribute to accidents from multiple sources of information, handling each data source separately. Because of the time-consuming nature of the work, analysts may not study the human factors as thoroughly in less severe accidents. The company's goal under the grant is to develop a data-mining technique that will make the work easier and thus allow analysts to apply the same level of human factors analysis to all mishaps.

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