Technologies Power On-Board Processing During Unmanned Systems
Aero-News learned recently unmanned
vehicles equipped with on-board sensor data processing capabilities
developed by Augusta Systems Inc. successfully "swarmed" during
recent field tests and demonstrations, operating autonomously, with
limited intervention by human operators.
"This is a significant advancement for unmanned systems. Thanks
to our on-board sensor data processing technologies, the vehicles
can function as fully robotic systems, capable of making their own
decisions," said Patrick Esposito, president and chief operating
officer of Augusta Systems.
"Now, with these technologies, unmanned systems can act as part
of a distributed, intelligent network on the battlefield,
processing, sharing and communicating critical data," he said. "As
a key component of joint, network-centric operations, intelligent
vehicles can perform the data processing and communications
normally handled by personnel in the field or at a centralized
Augusta Systems participated in the Naval Air Systems Command
sponsored tests and demonstrations, held at a National Aeronautics
and Space Administration facility on Wallops Island, VA.
For the tests and demonstrations, components of Augusta Systems
SensorBridge and SensorPort products were combined with other
commercial products, including mesh networking technologies from
Motorola and ITT Corporation, to form a payload computer installed
on-board four unmanned ground vehicles and two Aerosonde Mk III
unmanned aerial vehicles (shown above) from AAI Corporation, a
United Industrial Corporation.
SensorBridge is a suite of software components for Microsoft
Visual Studio 2005 for building and managing intelligent networks,
systems, and applications featuring data from edge assets within an
integrated development environment. SensorPort is a reconfigurable
network appliance for distributed, intelligent processing at the
edge of the network.
Distributed, on-board collaborative control algorithms, which
enable a single operator to coordinate and control multiple
vehicles, were implemented on the payload computers to enable the
swarming capabilities among the six air and ground vehicles. With
on-board collaborative control, the vehicles operate as a group,
functioning together as a "swarm."
The swarm can process and
communicate relevant information, allowing the individual vehicles
and group to change direction, autonomously, in response to sensor
inputs. The algorithms were developed by NewVectors LLC, a division
of TechTeam Government Solutions, Inc.
Other technologies utilized in the demonstration included
geospatial displays and user/operator interfaces developed using
SensorBridge and geographic information system software.
"Our technologies, combined with on-board collaborative control
algorithms and mesh networking technologies, have dramatically
increased the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance
capabilities of these vehicles," Esposito said. "By utilizing
components of our SensorBridge and SensorPort products with other
customized features, we’ve essentially provided the vehicles
with the brains to act with intelligence. The vehicles no longer
act alone, as independent, remote controlled cameras, but as
intelligent computing systems in a collaborative, networked