U.S. Navy Awards Lockheed Martin Contract to Pioneer Technology to Efficiently Manage Groups of Unmanned Vehicles
(Source: Lockheed Martin; issued June 2, 2010)
CHERRY HILL, NJ --- The Office of Naval Research has awarded Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories a $2.5 million, 18-month contract to pioneer a technology that helps watchstanders manage groups of unmanned vehicles more efficiently.
The traditional, vehicle-centric approach assigns a single person to a single vehicle and restricts their access to information from across their team, which can create stovepipes and uneven workload. Lockheed Martin's unique software system -- called Supervision of Unmanned vehicles Mission Management by Interactive Teams or SUMMIT, for short -- introduces a mission-centric approach that allows watchstanders to fluidly share information and tasks, equally distribute workload, complete mission analysis faster, and improve situational awareness.
Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories developed and evaluated SUMMIT as part of an 18-month contract awarded in April 2008. SUMMIT was developed for Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Mine Countermeasures mission package, and has the potential to be expanded to other mission packages and platforms.
Naval personnel from the LCS Mine Warfare detachment evaluating SUMMIT were extremely impressed with the mission-centric approach of the system including the ability to hand off tasks to teammates and the integration of all mission tasks into a coherent interface accessible by all team members. Their evaluation showed advances over the traditional vehicle-centric approach which assigns a single operator to a single vehicle for the duration of a mission. Improvements included completing post mission analysis in half the time and a 22 percent improvement in operator situational awareness.
One warfighter said, "SUMMIT basically takes everything and makes it a one stop shop for what we need."
"We have brought SUMMIT from concept to reality," said Jerry Franke, Lockheed Martin SUMMIT program manager. "In this next phase of the program we'll continue to mature, demonstrate, and prepare the system for transition to the fleet."
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.
Army Testing Rugged, Autonomous Robot Vehicle
(Source: U.S Army; dated June 2, web-posted June 3, 2010)
The Autonomous Platform Demonstrator being tested at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds. (US Army photo)
The U.S. Army's Autonomous Platform Demonstrator, or APD, is a 9.6 ton, six-wheeled, hybrid-electric robotic vehicle currently undergoing developmental and mobility testing at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md.; the demonstrator vehicle represents the state of the art in unmanned ground vehicle mobility technology.
With its advanced hybrid-electric drive train, the 15-foot-long vehicle, being developed by the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), can achieve speeds of over 50mph.
When equipped with its autonomous navigation system, the APD is configured with GPS waypoint technology, an inertial measurement unit and computer algorithms which enable it to move autonomously at speeds up to 50mph while avoiding obstacles in its path.
"The vehicle has obstacle detection and avoidance technology," said Dr. Jim Overholt, senior research scientist in robotics, Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC).
The mobility testing is aimed at advancing and developing the robot's ability to maneuver at higher speeds while maintaining extreme terrain-ability at lower speeds.
"We've run it through courses, slope testing and brake testing," said Chris Ostrowski, associate director for Vehicle Electronics and Architectures at TARDEC.
The APD is currently testing high speed maneuverability, such as lane changing. "This is a challenging controls problem with a skid steer vehicle. We want the robot to be stable when performing maneuvers like this, but we also want it to retain the other mobility characteristics that it possesses at lower speeds," said. Ostrowski.
Other mobility characteristics include the ability to climb a one-meter step, navigate a 60-percent slope, and pivot turn in place.
Being a series hybrid-electric vehicle, the APD is propelled by six in-hub electric motors and has a diesel generator which charges its lithium ion batteries.
"The state of the art hybrid-electric drive train is just one of the mobility technologies we are demonstrating with this platform," said Andrew Kerbrat, APD project manager, TARDEC.
Other technologies being demonstrated include advanced suspension systems, thermal and power management systems, robotic safety systems, and lightweight hull technologies.
"We've made a lot of progress with this platform in a short time period. From concept to wheels on the ground was just a shade over two years, and in the eight months since then, we've driven almost 3000 kilometers and have demonstrated 95 percent of the metrics that we were trying to show with this platform," said Kerbrat.
APD is the mobility platform being used by the Robotic Vehicle Control Architecture (RVCA) Army Technology Objective, also out of TARDEC. Working with PEO-Integration, RVCA has integrated a suite of system control, display and sensing hardware and software onto APD that allow it to be controlled real-time by a soldier, or operate in an autonomous mode.
"It uses a variety of sensors and a Ladar--a laser/radar scanning radar that can detect moving objects at distances," said Overholt. Additionally, RVCA provides Reconnaissance Surveillance and Target Acquisition capabilities.
"It has a four-meter mast with a sensor ball on top so it goes up pretty high and can see out quite a ways," said Chris Ostrowski.
"When you combine the autonomy and control capabilities provided by RVCA with the extreme mobility characteristics of APD it allows the soldier operator to quickly deploy a mission payload precisely where he wants it, and over some very tough terrain," says Kerbrat.
"The bottom line is that we are providing the soldier with a significant capability that will assist him in the performance of his mission while keeping him safer in the process."
A Defense Technology Blog
G-NIUS' Avantguard Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicle Delivered to IDF
Posted by Noam Eshel at 6/8/2010 1:16 AM CDT
G-NIUS Unmanned Ground Systems Ltd., a jointly-owned company of Elbit Systems Ltd. and Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd., will display their AvantGuard Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicle at Eurosatory 2010 next week. The vehicle currently being evaluated by the IDF is based on the Tactical Amphibious Ground System (TAGS) built by Dumur Industries from Canada.
Building on the autonomous capabilities developed by G-NIUS for the Guardium UGV system, as well as the TAGS inherent maneuverability in harsh terrain, AvantGuard UGCV expands the applications envelope of unmanned vehicles to encompass Counter IED (CIED) and ground maneuvering combat missions.
The autonomous vehicle configuration utilizes advanced robotics and sensor technologies, allowing it to "think", avoiding obstacles and communicating with the operator or other vehicles. The AvantGuard is controlled by a mobile or portable Operational Control Unit (OCU), and can also operate with dismounted or mounted combat teams, in a 'Follow-Me' mode, where it is autonomously trailing a foot soldier guide.
The vehicle uses a sensor package which can identify and avoid obstacles, along a pre-planned route. The navigation system uses Differential GPS (DGPS) with three control levels. Other sensors include front and rear cameras, mounted on a 360 deg. omni-directional pedestal.
Based on the mission profile, AvantGuard can carry various payloads - including electro-optical, communications relay, jamming and weapon stations. The AvantGuard can be deployed in a variety of combat missions including: Counter IED, Advance Guard, Armed Sentry, Combat Logistic Support, CASEVAC and more.
G-Nius is also working on another vehicle called Nachshon, designed to be the future multi-mission land robotic platform for the IDF. The Ground Forces command has also launched an optionally manned infantry load carrier, designed to haul about a one ton payload off road and in harsh terrain.
Photos Credit: G-NIUS
FCS Son Tests Look Good
By Colin Clark Friday, June 11th, 2010 12:09 pm
White Sands Missile Range – Early test results for son of FCS — not yet validated by Army testers — look good, with significant reliability and performance improvements to the group of technologies known as increment 1.
That was the word from several Army officials here, including Col. John Wendel, program manager for what the Army insists on calling Brigade Combat Team Modernization. (The Army and Boeing may hate it but son of FCS is the most accurate name for the agglomeration of stuff they now put under the rubric Brigade Combat Team Modernization.) A second Limited User Test is coming up next month and our trip was designed to give readers a glimpse at what is at stake and how things have changed since last year.
Here’s a summary:
A key component of the entire modernization effort, the Ground Mobile Radio (GMR), is performing at far longer ranges (up to 22 miles); with much improved reliability and it is doing so in combat mode. That means it is operating in anti-jamming mode. As Wendel told three visiting reporters, he was cradling GMRs in an air conditioned rental car last year to cool them down so they would work, and they took a very long time to start up — up to 90 minutes. Over the last few weeks, GMRs have been baked and frozen in environmental testing and they have performed reliably. The GMR is the central part of the Network Integration Kit (NIK) installed on three models of MRAPs for the modernization effort. These MRAPs have been left in the baking White Sands sun and have performed reliably. Now the GMR takes about 30 minutes to turn on all the wave forms, though a SINGCARS wave form can be started up in just over one minute, according to Marine Capt. James Thomas, who works on the system for the joint program office.
In terms of range, the improvement is marked. Last year, the GMR SRW wave form struggled to handle 800 meters. Now it’s functioning at up to 12 kilometers. The Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW) is now handling more than 30 kilometers. Bottom line, according to Wendel: they are “performing well beyond requirements in terms of range.” One of the most visible and impressive improvements to the network is its ability to send reasonably crisp images at a decent speed that pop on the Army’s FBCB2 screen. Vehicles features were clearly discernible.
The little ground robot, the SUGV, only managed to eke out seven hours mean time between failures last year. Under controlled testing at Aberdeen Proving Ground, two SUGVs have demonstrated more than 42 hours between failures, Wendel said.
The flying beer keg, also known as the Class 1 UAV, is no longer suffering regular hard landings and system aborts, Wendel said: “Last year, every time we flew we would cross our toes and fingers.” On Wednesday night, it flew for a total of eight hours.
The unattended ground sensor is sending data with far greater reliability, thanks to a more rugged antenna, improved battery contacts and a solar shield that helps prevent overheating.
The House Armed Services Committee came down hard on son of FCS, whacking most of the money from the Army budget. Although Rep. Silvestre Reyes, senior member of the HASC, restored $111.6 million of a massive cut of $891 million from the Army’s 2011 budget request for modernization. The Army had requested $1.6 billion for research and development and $682.7 million to buy gear. While we hear that appropriators are unlikely to go as far as their authorizing cousins, there is clearly fairly broad skepticism in the House. Perhaps it is time for congressional staff to grab a fresh look at the brigade technologies, suggested one Capitol Hill watcher. “Members and staffers really need to see these capabilities in person at White Sands to fully appreciate the progress that’s been made since last year,” this source said.
[Full disclosure: Boeing paid for our plane ticket to visit White Sands.]
Read more: http://www.dodbuzz.com/2010/06/11/fc...#ixzz0qatfV1Z9
Lockheed Martin’s SMSS Vehicle Demonstrates Autonomous Performance For Logistics Cent
07:21 GMT, June 18, 2010 DALLAS, TX | Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] recently proved in a series of demonstration tests that its Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) vehicle can perform detailed logistics tasks without human control. The testing was conducted at the Lockheed Martin facility in Littleton, CO, for several military attendees.
The SMSS vehicle performed all autonomous operations flawlessly, including:
• mcorrectly following a road network,
• safely maneuvering through a building complex,
• avoiding obstacles inserted in its path, including mannequins simulating people,
• following a person using only optical tracking, exercising real-time obstacle avoidance, and
• navigating to a person who issued a “come-to-me” command.
SMSS also demonstrated its ease of operability in real-time controller-to-controller hand-offs, allowing different operators to take control of the vehicle as it arrived at new locations. Operators also disengaged autonomy and went on board the vehicle to control it manually, showcasing user options in commanding the system.
“These demonstrations exemplify how the military can benefit from SMSS as an autonomous logistics vehicle to move parts, tools and materiel around fixed installations,” said Don Nimblett, senior Business Development manager for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “SMSS has proved through performance that our approach to autonomy is flexible and adaptable to a variety of platforms and missions. We’ve already proved the advantages SMSS can bring in the field through U.S. Army-funded Warfighter experiments. These recent trials showed how SMSS can perform in crowded, limited environments transporting tons of cargo.”
Attendees who witnessed the demonstration included representatives from the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence Solider Requirements Division, Combined Arms Support Command, Training and Doctrine Command Accelerated Capabilities Division, Rapid Equipping Force, Robotic Systems Joint Project Office, U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force’s 60th Maintenance Group.
The SMSS was initially developed as a Lockheed Martin initiative to lighten the load for light infantry Soldiers and Marines. A highly mobile 6x6 vehicle, SMSS can carry 1,200 pounds of gear for a 9- to 13-person squad, and it can accompany the squad on many missions through heavy terrain. The fully loaded SMSS can be sling-loaded under a UH-60L helicopter, or carried internally in a CH-47/53 helicopter. The robotic capabilities and autonomy utilized on SMSS are also applicable to a much broader range of robotic applications, missions and vehicles.
This is the half-scale model shown at Eurosatory 2010..............
Army’s Self-Driving Trucks Let Humans Watch for Bombs
By Spencer Ackerman July 12, 2010 | 2:50 pm
As insurgents in Afghanistan target the U.S. military’s soft underbelly — its long logistics lines — trucking materiel through war zones has become an increasingly dangerous mission. One U.S. Army solution? Self-driving trucks that let the humans behind the wheel look out for bombs, instead.
Danger Room friend Paul McLeary reports for the new issue of Defense Technology International about an add-on vehicle-automation system called CAST (“Convoy Active Safety Technology“). Developed by Lockheed Martin for the Army on a $5.3 million contract, CAST is a system that you attach to your truck that enables it to drive itself, using radar and sensors (not, say, GPS) to navigate toward a programmed destination.
The system is designed to keep formation with its convoy partners, adjusting speed to maintain safe distances between vehicles, and to pick up the slack if a lead vehicle is disabled. Feel like driving again? Switch CAST to manual and take back the wheel.
According to McLeary, the Army’s tank researchers have put CAST through a ringer: 12,000 hours of unmanned road testing, typically at distances of 35 miles during the day and 15 miles at night. The researchers found that drivers-turned-passengers riding in CAST-controlled trucks were 25 percent more likely to spot roadside bombs, since “the driver was able to watch both sides of the road instead of driving the vehicle.” In other words, algorithms can now play “follow-the-leader” just fine. Looking out for explosives is the hard part — the new place where we carbon units are needed in the loop.
Lots of questions about CAST remain, however. It’s not clear how fast the things go. Previous generations of autonomous automobiles essentially posed a tradeoff between robo-piloting and doing well at basic car tasks like getting to a destination quickly.
But even if CAST works perfectly, it’s far from certain that the Army would share it with the truckers who could use it the most — commercial suppliers. After all, local trucking companies who supply U.S. bases in Afghanistan often get hit by insurgents and outraged locals in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
So before the Army can field a fleet of Knight Riders to ferry toilet paper and ammo to remote outposts — the dream of the military R&D whizkids in Darpa for decades — Lockheed still has to bring CAST downrange, so Army truckers can test it in active combat zones, hopefully before the end of 2011.
And Afghanistan still may not be its destination even if it works. McLeary reports that it’s not built for going off-road, and Afghanistan still suffers from a dearth of blacktop. That warzone might be a 10-33, so you better pull a brake check before you’ve got Alligators everywhere — or something.
Read More http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010...#ixzz0tW6FKbhy
SKorea Deploys Sentry Robot on Border
July 13, 2010
South Korea has deployed a sentry robot capable of detecting and killing intruders along the heavily fortified border with North Korea, officials said Tuesday.
"Our military has been testing such robots along the border," a defense ministry spokesman told AFP.
Two robots with surveillance, tracking, firing and voice recognition systems were integrated into a single unit, he said, declining to give details.
The robot unit costing 400 million won ($330,000) was installed last month at a guard post in the central section of the Demilitarized Zone that bisects the peninsula, Yonhap news agency said.
It quoted an unidentified military official as saying the ministry would deploy sentry robots along the world's last Cold War frontier if the test is successful.
The robot uses heat and motion detectors to sense possible threats, and alerts command centers, Yonhap said.
If the command center operator cannot identify possible intruders through the robot's audio or video communications system, the operator can order it to fire its gun or 40mm automatic grenade launcher.
South Korea is also developing highly sophisticated combat robots armed with weapons and sensors that could complement human soldiers on battlefields.
It has a largely conscripted military of 655,000 against Pyongyang's 1.2 million-strong force, but a falling birth rate means Seoul will struggle in the future to maintain troop numbers.
© Copyright 2010 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.
Farnborough 2010: BAE Systems develops new autonomous mule
July 21, 2010
Interesting considering LM's efforts per posts above...........
BAE Systems is pitching an autonomous load-carrying vehicle to the UK Ministry of Defence through a self-funded programme called the Multi-Operated All-Terrain Vehicle (MOATV).
Speaking to Unmanned Vehicles at the Farnborough International Air Show, company representatives said the ‘proof of concept' programme aimed to prove the maturity of the MOATV technology, which can be applied to any vehicle, as well as examine how such a platform might be used by dismounted troops.
The MOATV is designed to ‘reduce the burden on the dismounted soldier' and can either be operated by a remote control or instructed to act semi-autonomously in a number of different modes. It can also be driven like a regular vehicle.
BAE Systems has been working on the programme for some months and has been doing trials with a Supacat 6x6 ATV in conjunction with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).
Andy Wright, director of technology acquisition for BAE Systems Strategic Capability Solutions, said the trials were working through the safety issues of using an autonomous vehicle alongside dismounted troops and trial how a platoon might use such a system.
‘The safety issue is one of the key challenges in this area,' Wright said.
‘This is a concept vehicle to show how it could be used to support dismounted soldiers. It can be instructed to follow a platoon of soldiers, carrying the gear they need; it can be told to go from one position to another, perhaps in a fire fight to bring supplies; and it could even be used for casualty evacuation.'
The vehicle can be instructed to follow a solider carrying a PDA, can be instructed to come to the soldier at ‘a push of a button' and can be directed forward for reconnaissance.
The MOATV technology includes a collision detection and avoidance system that allows it to negotiate around objects while in autonomous mode.
Wright said the system had been developed in conjunction with BAE Systems Australia.
Among the concept of operations issues being worked through was how to pass control of the vehicle from one PDA to another and what would happen should the control PDA be lost mid-operation.
By Tony Skinner, Farnborough
Boeing-iRobot Team Receives New SUGV Task Order from US Army
(Source: Boeing Co.; issued July 27, 2010)
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. --- The Boeing Company and partner iRobot Corp. today announced that they have received a new task order to an existing contract to provide Small Unmanned Ground Vehicles (SUGV) to the U.S. Army. The order calls for 94 new model 310 SUGV robots, plus spares, for a total value of $14.6 million.
This order, the contract's fifth, brings the total units ordered by the U.S. government to 323. The existing Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity contract will run through February.
"Boeing and iRobot are pleased to be working with our customers to provide this life-saving technology in response to urgent warfighter needs," said Bob DaLee, Robotics program manager for Boeing Network & Tactical Systems. "The 35-pound 310 SUGV system provides the dismounted Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technician with the ability to perform reconnaissance during extremely hazardous EOD missions involving unexploded ordnance and improvised explosive devices."
"Robots have played an important role on the battlefield for years now, and their numbers in theater are growing," said Joe Dyer, president of iRobot's Government and Industrial Robots division. "Warfighters can carry and quickly deploy the SUGV at a moment's notice, which is crucial in challenging environments such as Afghanistan. These robots are saving lives every day."
Boeing and iRobot developed the SUGV family of vehicles under a strategic alliance that began in 2007. SUGV is a smaller and lighter version of the combat-proven PackBot. It is designed to give warfighters real-time awareness of critical situations and to allow them to complete missions from safe standoff distances. It is ideal for a variety of mission types, including EOD, route clearance and reconnaissance. As the prime contractor, Boeing provides program management, contracts, government-test support and quality-control support from offices in Huntsville. iRobot is responsible for engineering, government-test support, manufacturing, training and logistics services, with the majority of work conducted in Bedford, Mass.
"The SUGV can increase the safety of U.S. and allied warfighters in uncertain situations," said William Boggs, director of Boeing Global Forces & Robotics Systems. "We will continue working with our customer not only to provide these valuable assets, but also to continue to refine them so the SUGV we deliver tomorrow has even more capability than the one we deliver today."
iRobot designs and builds robots that make a difference. The company's home robots help people with smarter ways to clean, and its government and industrial robots protect those in harm's way. iRobot's consumer and military robots feature iRobot Aware® robot intelligence systems, proprietary technology incorporating advanced concepts in navigation, mobility, manipulation and artificial intelligence.
Boeing is the largest aerospace company in Alabama and one of the state's largest employers. Current company operations in Huntsville include the Ground-based Midcourse Defense program and other missile defense work, such as the Arrow system and the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 seeker, as well as work associated with Ares I, the International Space Station, Army Integrated Logistics, Brigade Combat Team Modernization, SBInet, and engineering for the 787 and the P-8A Poseidon.
A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $34 billion business with 68,000 employees worldwide.
Europe's Focus on Unmanned Network Centric Solutions to Boost the Unmanned Ground Vehicles Market, Says Frost & Sullivan
(Source: Frost & Sullivan; issued August 4, 2010)
LONDON --- The European unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) market is growing slowly, but steadily, depicting a relatively undisturbed trend for the year 2011 and beyond. The United States has progressed in terms of the network enabled capability of their defence resources, spurring the Departments of Defence (DoDs) of various European countries to focus on unmanned network centric solutions.
Currently, soldier force modernisation is on the agenda of several European countries, to retain their technological edge over developing nations. The gap between U.S. and European defence technology is an additional instigating factor. UGV is becoming an integral part of network centric warfare.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Unmanned Ground Vehicles Market Assessment - Europe, finds that the market earned revenues of $302.5 million in 2009 and estimates this to reach $311.2 million by 2016.
"Network enabled capabilities are gradually gaining momentum within the Ministries of Defence (MODs)," says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Shyam Srinivasan. "The ability of remotely patrolling a group of vehicles and strategising battlefield formations has evoked an interest to graduate to unmanned artillery in the future."
The European UGV industry has remained niche. The future lies in opening up opportunities for smaller participants to penetrate the market. Another potential is in the maintenance and repair of such specialised machinery in the period from now to 2016.
However, reduced defence budget allocation is one of the primary restraints to the UGV market. Furthermore, lean expenditure on new technology is to support the production of traditional weapons for the Afghan war.
"The unit cost of the equipment is also a restraint to procurement in numbers," explains Srinivasan. "For example, a small unmanned ground vehicle (SUGV) with electro-optics/infrared (EO/IR) sensors would cost about $20,000 and the cost of explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) machinery can go up to $300,000."
The industry should focus on the commercial and civil market to increase revenue. The lower unit cost can be attained by using less expensive materials and technologies. Progress towards expendable equipment will result in manufacturing affordable equipment.
"Civil security and border patrol to tackle improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are some of the potential areas to focus on for greater revenue in the long-term," concludes Srinivasan.
Unmanned Ground Vehicles Market Assessment - Europe is part of the Defence Growth Partnership Services programme, which also includes research in the following markets: European Land-Based C2 Markets, European Land Based ISTAR Vehicle Electronics Market, and Network Centric Warfare: A European Market Executive Analysis. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.
Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, enables clients to accelerate growth and achieve best-in-class positions in growth, innovation and leadership. Frost & Sullivan leverages over 45 years of experience in partnering with Global 1000 companies, emerging businesses and the investment community from 40 offices on six continents.