New Autonomous Robot Extends Communication Beyond Line-of-sight


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Army engineers demonstrated autonomous robots as part of a teaming effort to evolve natural interaction between Soldiers and autonomous systems during an exercise here, Nov. 2-3.

This interaction allows for one Soldier to use numerous unmanned systems, which require neither dedicated operators nor significant cognitive burden on the part of commanders.

The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center Technology Enhancements in Autonomous Machines, or C-TEAM, was rapidly initialized to focus on the single mid-term exercise. The team used two Modular Detection and Response System, or MDARS, robots for the demonstration.

The demonstration incorporated a tactical scenario to show relevance of how this capability can be integrated into a mission to benefit the Soldier.

The two MDARS navigated autonomously to their destinations while the C-TEAM followed in a chase vehicle, and engineers verified that the radios provided a communications relay by watching the video streams from each vehicle and sending it back to the commander vehicle via a radio network.

Chuck Shoemaker, lead for autonomous systems at CERDEC, said the concept of the demonstration was to show how the commander can leverage unmanned ground vehicles, or UGVs, to create beyond line-of-sight communications; use mission command applications to create plans and task the UGVs to execute mission, leverage the sensors on board the unmanned systems for situation awareness; and get eyes-on-target for target detection and engage the enemy from beyond line-of-sight.

The idea was the culmination of a year-plus collaborative effort consisting of four CERDEC directorates to include the Command, Power and Integration Directorate, or CP&I, the Space & Terrestrial Communications Directorate, Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate, and the Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate.

Assisting in this effort were several industry contractors, supporting the MDARS as a platform and the development of a high-performance planner that allows the MDARS to operate off-road.

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