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Principles for Architecting Autonomous SystemsThis paper distills principles for developing autonomous systems based on experience and lessons learned from past efforts. The purpose of these principles is to establish a common understanding and knowledge of architectural elements to guide the development of next-generation multi-mission autonomous systems and ensure the safe and productive operation of space assets. An attempt has been made to ground these principles in fundamentals that should withstand the test of time while allowing for and enabling the advancement of technologies. They are not intended to prescribe a design nor a software representation. There may be multiple designs that can honor these principles. These principles are focused on autonomy for robotic assets. As such, they do not address autonomy for crewed assets nor autonomy that can collectively generate intelligent behavior without top-level system cognizance (e.g., intelligent swarm behavior). These areas would be a subject of future efforts.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Document Type
Preprint (Draft being sent to journal)
External Source(s)
Day, John
Rasmussen, Robert
Nesnas, Issa A.D.
Date Acquired
February 3, 2022
Publication Date
February 3, 2022
Publication Information
Publisher: Pasadena, CA: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2022
Distribution Limits
Technical Review

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