Sunday, June 20, 2010

Robot Vehicles for Military Convoys

The US Department of Defense funds the DARPA Grand Challenge where driverless vehicles, have to negotiate a course of about 96 km. However, far simpler systems could be almost as useful. The Lockheed Martin Convoy Active Safety Technology (CAST) system allows some of the driving to be done automatically, while the driver is busy on other tasks. This has now been enhanced to allow a lead vehicle in a convoy to be driven from the vehicle behind. This would be useful in reducing causalities from roadside bombs.

While the Lockheed Martin system uses advanced sensors to automate some of the driving, a simpler system might just use cameras on the lead vehicle with a dedicated human operator in the following vehicle to do the driving remotely. It might be feasible to have the one driver operate both vehicles, providing a vehicle interface and response similar to an articulated vehicle. The driver would normally look at a screen showing the scene from the vehicle in front and steer that vehicle, with the one they are actually in following behind as towed trailer would.

A further enhancement would be to have the tail vehicle in the convoy to be automated, simply following the vehicle in front, simulating a trailer. This would be of added value as a typical ambush technique is to disable the lead and tail vehicles. It would also allow three vehicles to be driven by one operator. It should be noted that unlike a real articulated vehicle, these would not need to be similar in size or configuration. In particular the control vehicle could be a small unit designed for carrying and protecting personnel, while the lead and training vehicles could be lightly protected cargo carriers.

The AutoMateTM sensor and actuator kit enables CAST to be an agile,
versatile and survivable sustainment system of multi-vehicle convoys which are
ready, reliable and secure. With the need for a low-cost multi- vehicle
autonomous convoy capability, our goal is to design, demonstrate and deploy a
system that is capable of both lateral and longitudinal control of various
tactical wheeled vehicles relative to a lead vehicle in order to improve convoy
safety, security, survivability and sustainment. Our system has been shown to
significantly reduce crew fatigue, eliminate rear-end collisions, enhance
operator situational awareness and enable a more effective response to attack. ...

A Kit-Based, Platform-Independent and Cost-Effective Convoy Automation System

  • Five-Vehicle Convoys
  • Integrated FMTV & M915
  • POV Incursion Handling
  • Dynamic Obstacle Detection
  • Governed Column Intervals
  • Limited Visibility Operation
  • Night-Vision Driving Ready
  • Split and Rejoin Handling
  • 50 mph on Paved Roads
  • 35 mph on Dirt Roads
  • Single Button Operation
  • 25% More Targets Identified and 10m Further Away
  • 85% Improvement in Emergency Brake Response
  • 87% Reduction in Governed Interval Distance Error ...

From: Convoy
Active Safety Technology
(CAST), Lockheed Martin, 2009

No comments: