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Thread: Unmanned Ground Vehicles

  1. #1

    Unmanned Ground Vehicles

    Army Leverages Private Industry, Academia to Advance Robotics Research

    (Source: U.S Army; issued April 21, 2010)

    ADELPHI, Md. --- Developing smart robots with the ability to work for and alongside Soldiers is the ultimate goal of the Army's $63.2 million investment in a new robotics cooperative agreement with industry and academia over the next five years.

    The Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance is expected to push the research needed to make autonomous robots accomplish more missions and take some of the burden off Soldiers on the battlefield, said Army Research Laboratory's Dr. Jon Bornstein, chief of the Robotics Autonomous Systems Division and CTA manager.

    It will also have a potential five-year extension with an additional $66.5 million investment, totaling a possible $129.7 million.

    "I would like to see the CTA research demonstrate an unmanned system that can adapt to a dynamic environment and learn from its experiences," said Bornstein. "I'm really looking forward to this research moving unmanned systems as a tool for the Soldier."

    Bornstein said he compares his vision of the future use of robots in the Army with the way warfighters work with dogs in K-9 units.

    "They're part of the team, and we want these unmanned systems to be part of team. There must be an intuitive bond between the Soldier and robot - a trust ... and a certain level of compatibility to develop that capability," he said.

    Through the agreement, ARL will be working with a consortium of leading research organizations to break through basic scientific barriers in perception, intelligence, human-robot interaction, dexterous manipulation and unique mobility.

    "Developing technology in these critical areas is crucial to the advancement of future unmanned systems possessing a significant level of autonomy," said Bornstein. "Robots can't be dumb. They must be able to work on their own."

    While the Army drives the research direction, it chose a consortium of eight organizations, led by General Dynamics Robotic Systems, to perform under the cooperative agreement.

    Boston Dynamics, Carnegie-Mellon University, California Institute of Technology Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Florida A&M University, QinetiQ North America, the University of Central Florida, and the University of Pennsylvania will all work as partners to delve into the cutting-edge research.

    ARL uses cooperative agreements to bring together consortiums that develop and execute research plans that share financial, intellectual, personnel and infrastructure resources from both the government and private sector, and the new agreement is the third robotics-centered CTA the laboratory has leveraged.

    Bornstein managed a previous eight and a half years of CTA robotics research. The original CTA focused on command and control of robotics while the newly announced agreement is reaching into intelligence, learning and robotic-human interaction.

    "We accomplished a significant amount of research in our previous CTA," said Bornstein. "We see (that research) filtering into the Army's autonomous systems now."

    The Micro Autonomous System Technologies CTA was the second ARL alliance, which focuses on small, hand-held robotics research.

    The broader robotics-research picture falls under the auspices of the laboratory's enterprise that focuses on four key areas; perception, intelligence, human-robot interaction and manipulation and mobility.

    "This robotics CTA will be a key part of ARL's Autonomous Systems Enterprise that combines ARL's internal research efforts with external research," Bornstein said.


  2. #2

    Israeli Microbot Fires Pencil-Sized Rockets to Stop Bombs

    By Noah Shachtman May 17, 2010 | 5:31 pm

    This teeny little robot is the size of a toy truck — just 50 square inches. It’d be cute, almost, if it wasn’t armed with “dozens” of eight-inch rockets.

    The world’s militaries have been gun-shy about letting armed robots roam around the battlefield; they’re always a danger the machines will malfunction and ruin some pesky human’s day. But Rafael, Israel’s state-owned arms-maker, is betting that its miniature Pincher robot might be allowed into warzones as a tool for neutralizing roadside bombs.

    According to Defense News’ Barbara Opall-Rome each of the Pincher’s micro-munitions is ” a self-contained micro rocket with safety ignition, motor, warhead and safety fuse.” The “pyrophoric warhead combusts once ignited to burn upon target penetration,” which supposedly “eliminat[es] collateral damage often caused by traditional explosive systems.”

    “Instead of detona*tion, where the speed of the shockwave is ul*trasonic, we developed a special material that causes deflagration, where the speed of the shockwave is subsonic and does not cause sig*nificant damage,” Rafael’s Ram Fabian tells Opall-Rome.

    The Pincher has a range of 100 feet, maybe. An onboard camera looks for bombs, and helps remote operators aim the pencil-missiles.

    It’s not Israel’s first attempt at a tiny killer robot. In 2007, the Elbit corporation unveiled its 18-inch VIPeR (”Versatile, Intelligent, Portable Robot”), equipped with a “9 mm mini-Uzi.” The machine never made much of a splash.

    But rafael has high hopes for the Pincher. The Israel-focused military site Defense Update even suggests the ‘bot could be “used indoors to seek targets, locate and deactivate IEDs.” Just make sure some kid doesn’t pick it up and put it in his toybox afterward.

    [Photo: Rafael via Defense Update]

    Read More http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010...#ixzz0oEpf5A67

  3. #3

    From Verena Schmitt-Roschmann, May 19, 2010 - 08:12 AM

    Military experts see robots as key to saving soldiers' lives

    By Verena Schmitt-Roschmann

    HAMMELBURG, Germany (AP) - On the outside, it looks like a normal SUV. But the prototype "autonomous robot car" — fitted with sensors and scanners, multifocal camera systems and powerful computers — might one day help avoid military fatalities from bombings and ambushes — or so its designers hope.

    Researchers presented the so-called MuCar-3 at the European Land Robot Trial this week in Germany, where the world's innovators were pitching ideas to military evaluators from the United States, Europe and Japan.

    The MuCar-3 can independently follow a lead car, as in a military convoy, and even stop or back up when the lead car does so. It is a step toward providing military commanders with a robotic system that will keep troops out of harm's way whenever possible.

    But there are still a few problems to solve, according to the evaluators at the Robot Trial conference, being held near the central German city of Hammelburg.

    "We have seen progress, but not as much as we have wished for," said Dirk Ellinger, director of armaments at the German Defense Ministry.

    Around the world, armies already use about 10,000 different remote-controlled robot systems for surveillance, reconnaissance or bomb disposal — as seen in the Oscar-winning film "The Hurt Locker." Experts are still waiting for a breakthrough on ground robots to fulfill simple tasks without human guidance.

    "For now, there are no solutions for autonomous or semiautonomous systems ready to go into serial production," Ellinger said.

    Military commanders are not exactly waiting for something out of the movies — today's priorities don't require sending anything like a Star Wars-like R2 unit or Terminator robot into action, German Army Chief Werner Freers said.

    "We are looking for pragmatic solutions that would make life easier for our soldiers in military missions," he said.

    Freers said he'd like something that will help soldiers avoid danger, but also wants to spare troops routine tasks so they can concentrate on more important things — "not least of which would be fighting."

    Convoy solutions — like the MuCar-3, developed by the military's academy, the University of the Bundeswehr in Munich — could free soldiers from having to move supplies, a stressful and dangerous job in countries like Iraq or Afghanistan.

    "This is something we are able to do," said Henrik Christensen, director at Georgia Tech Center for Robotics.


  4. #4

    Armed Robotic Vehicle-Assault (Light) (ARV-A-L)

    I did not realize the Autonomous Navigation System (ANS) from FCS platforms had progressed this far.

    Source: Defense-update

    Autonomous Vehicle Navigation Systems (ANS) Matured
    Following over 2,000 lab and field tests the Autonomous Navigation System (ANS) under development at General Dynamics Robotic Systems for the U.S. Army has passed the Critical Design Review milestone in March 2010 and is moving to prototype fabrication phase, toward integration and initial testing on a prototype Armed Robotic Vehicle (ARV) in 2011. The Army's future robotic platforms and the seven Manned Ground Vehicles (MGV), as part of the Future Combat Systems (FCS) program, the $237 ANS program has sofar survived the termination of the FCS and is fully funded through 2013.

    Originally destined for integration into the Army's future robotic platforms and the seven Manned Ground Vehicles (MGV), as part of the Future Combat Systems (FCS) program, the $237 ANS program has sofar survived the termination of the FCS and is fully funded through 2013. This capability could introduce 'transformational' capabilities with future combat vehicles, empowering conventional vehicles or future, robotic platforms with unmanned, and autonomous operating modes. The ANS CDR is among the first in a series of critical Increment 2 reviews underway for the Army's Brigade Combat Team (BCT) Modernization program.

    The ANS system integrates a suite of sensors processors and actuators enabling automotive platforms to conduct autonomous navigation, perform area perception, path-planning and vehicle-following functions operating as unmanned ground vehicles, or optionally manned vehicles, allowing vehicles to move on the battlefield with minimal human oversight. Among the tasks the system already performed in tests are 'move-on-route', 'obstacle detection and avoidance' and 'leader/follower' capabilities in both day and night conditions.

    Mr. Larry Hennebeck, Assistant Product Manager ANS explained the suite's sensors comprise three types – video, Laser Radar (LADAR) and milimeter-wave sensors. The video cameras provide the eyes of the systems, with multiple cameras covering a wide field with three-dimensional stereo-vision, viewing fore and aft. LADARs are also pointed fore and aft, creating a 3D image of the secene while the milimeter-wave sensors indicating distance and closing speed to obstacles. Sensor feeds are processed through a 'super computer on a board'. Five such boards are crunching the data at a 'terraflop' rate, fusing all 'senses' into a situational picture providing the system a perception of the scene, enabling the machine to plot the optimal route along the preplanned waypoints, where the least obstacles are encountered, while conforming to the directions and commands set by the user, guiding the vehicle's next action and proceeds.

    The system has already been tested on vehicles including Strykers, the MULE Engeneering Evaluation Units, and Light Medium Tactical Vehicles (LMTV). Once matured, ANS system are expected to cost around $300,000 and be integrated into many combat and combat support vehicles, enabling driverless operations of manned or unmanned vehicles.
    Source: Defense-update

    The Army's First Combat Robot - Operational by 2015
    Light combat brigades could be fielded by 2015 as part of the U.S. Army Brigade Modernization Plan. The Armed Robotic Vehicle-Assault (Light) (ARV-A-L) currently in development, could be ready for operation by 2014 and is currently planned for delivery to the first brigades by the years 2014-2015.

    According to Lt. Colonel Jay Ferriera, Product Manager Unmanned Ground Vehicles, a key system for the ARV-A-L is the Autonomous Navigation System (ANS) being developed by General Dynamics Robotics Systems. ANS is scheduled to be ready for Integrated Qualification Testing on these robotic vehicles in 2012, anticipating initial operational capability with an airborne, air-assualt or light brigade by 2014.
    Featuring an integrated weapons and reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA) package the ARV-A-L (designated XM1219) will support the dismounted infantry’s efforts to locate and destroy enemy platforms and positions. This robotic platform will support both anti-tank and anti-personnel weapons systems that to be remotely operated by network linked soldiers.

    The 2.5 ton ARV-A-L will be sling-loadable under military rotorcraft. Its chassis is designed as the Common Mobility Platform (CMP) – a common chassis shared by different robotic vehicles developed under Multifunction Utility/Logistics and Equipment (MULE) program which has not survived the wave of cancellations that followed the termination of FCS.

    Three larger unmanned combat vehicles were part of the FCS concept from its inception, but these combat capable robots were eliminated from the program in early 2007, in an attempt to save over $3 billion getting the program back on track. Setting the ARV aside for a while may have saved this vehicle, as it was developed 'in the background', and could be brought forward after the entire program collapsed. ARV-A-L is currently part of Capability Package 14-15, which will begin fielding in 2015. The CMP will provides superior mobility built around advanced propulsion and articulated suspension system rendering unique combat advantages, like extreme offroad mobility, and negotiation of complex terrain, cross obstacles and gaps that a dismounted BCT squad will encounter.

    The CMP uses a 6x6 independent articulated suspension, coupled with in-hub motors powering each wheel. This design has proved to offer supperior performance, far exceeding that of vehicles utilizing more conventional suspension systems. The vehicle will be capable of climb at least a 1-meter step, far exceeding requirements, and provides the vehicle with the mobility performance and surefootedness required to safely follow dismounted troops over rough terrain, through rock and debris fields and over urban rubble. This technology also allows the ARV-A-L to cross 1-meter gaps, traverse side slopes greater than 40 percent, ford water to depths over 0.5 meters and overpass obstacles as high as 0.5 meters, while compensating for varying payload weights and center of gravity locations.

    Optionally driven vehicles will also become reality by the second half of this decade. Future infantry vehicles like the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) will eventually be operated by the squad it transports, without committing additional crewmen - driver, commander and gunner. The vehicle's systems could be operated from inside the vehicle or by a dismounted team members via remote controls. However, this vision is not het hammered into the current GCV plan or schedule awaiting further maturation of the ANS or comparable technologies.
    And an old picture - the new vehicle has TWEELS not wheels and a M240 Machine Gun & two Javelin missiles (Reference)
    Last edited by Ecky; 21-05-10 at 02:03 AM.

  5. #5

    Tweels? . . .

  6. #6

    Quote Originally Posted by McDethWivFries View Post
    Tweels? . . .
    Found it...

    On Bobcat

    Basic background information on Wiki

    Last edited by Ecky; 21-05-10 at 05:51 AM.

  7. #7

    Ah cheers for that. Remember seeing Mercedes playing around with that at one stage too.

  8. #8

    Tweels and vehicle in action............

    © Copyright 2010 - Defense Update, Lance & Shield Ltd.

  9. #9

    Lockheed Martin Demonstrates New Ambush-Thwarting Push-Vehicle Capability for Automated Convoy Program

    (Source: Lockheed Martin; issued May 24, 2010)

    DALLAS --- Lockheed Martin has developed a new push-vehicle capability for its automated convoy program that will save lives in the fight against convoy ambush and IED attacks. The Convoy Active Safety Technology system, which enables convoy vehicles to autonomously follow each other, demonstrated the push-vehicle feature recently. It allows the first vehicle to be driven autonomously, as compared to past system designs where the lead had to be under human control.

    "CAST's push-vehicle capability directly responds to real life dangers that our troops are facing. It will prevent injury and loss of life in the forward vehicle, which most frequently bears the brunt of deadly ambushes and IED attacks," said Glenn Miller, vice president of Technical Operations and Applied Research at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "CAST already improves the safety, security, survivability and sustainment of tactical wheeled vehicles. Our proven push-vehicle feature takes that to another level."

    The autonomous push-vehicle was developed to lead a convoy of semi-autonomous follower vehicles into hazardous areas without a human operator on board. Using the AutoMate™ sensor, actuator and processing kit, any tactical wheeled vehicle can quickly and easily convert into the push-vehicle or perform as part of the convoy. Even in this role, the vehicle can maintain safe trajectories and interval distances on both developed and undeveloped roadways, avoid dynamic obstacles and operate at full speed in visually obstructed conditions such as dust or blackout night operations.

    Lockheed Martin tested CAST's new capability this month in internal tests and is ready to demonstrate its life-saving features to Warfighters during user assessments. Notably, CAST demonstrated its precision system during the Army's Robotics Rodeo held last year at Fort Hood, TX.

    CAST is a development program for the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center. The affordable, simple, kit-based technology is not dependent on any platform and has logged more than 10,000 miles of operation. Tests have proved CAST-enabled trucks can follow roads and other vehicles to eliminate rear-end collisions, reduce road departures and enable soldiers to respond to 25 percent more hostile threats and from greater distances.

    Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 136,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation reported 2009 sales of $45.2 billion.


  10. #10

    Video: Killer iRobot Wipes Out a Whole Field at Once

    By Noah Shachtman June 1, 2010 | 5:01 pm

    Over the spring, iRobot co-founder Colin Angle stopped by Wired’s New York offices to talk about the new machines he had planned for the Pentagon. They would not be lethally armed, he assured us, because “the military is not particularly interested in weaponized robots.” Despite years of development, the brass still had too many concerns about the safety of the technology — and about the perceptions of a killer ‘bot. iRobot might try to put less-lethal arms on some of its machines, he added. But deadly robots? No way.

    Now, a few months later, iRobot has released this video, featuring one of its 710 Warrior machines triggering a very large (and potentially, very deadly) explosion. Its the APOBS (Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breaching System), a rocket-fired system, designed to clear mine fields 45 square meters at a time. The rocket carries a set of grenades, which then detonate all together, taking with them the mines — and whatever else happens to be in the way. APOBS isn’t meant to kill people. But obviously, it could produce a deadly result.

    iRobot has tested out other killer robots before. And this Warrior isn’t the first machine to try out the mine-clearing, explosion-making APOBS system. The Marine Corps’ lethal Gladiator ‘bot was designed to use the APOBS — and many, many more weapons. But the Gladiator never made it to the battlefield, due in part to safety and public perception fears.

    Read More http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010...#ixzz0penjaY00

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