Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Marines to Use Autonomous Vehicles Built by Virginia Tech Students

24.06.2010
Four unmanned autonomous vehicles designed and built by a team of engineering students at Virginia Tech using the TORC Robotic Building Blocks product line, are headed to Hawaii to participate in the 2010 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) war games in July.

Fourteen nations, 34 ships, five submarines, more than 100 aircraft, and 20,000 personnel will participate in the biennial RIMPAC exercise June 23 through Aug. 1.

The Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory worked closely with Virginia Tech and TORC in the creation of the four Ground Unmanned Support Surrogates (GUSS) that will be used for their ability to support a platoon of U.S. Marines.

The unmanned vehicles can carry up to 1800 pounds and can move at the speed of a troop on foot, or about five miles per hour. The vehicles are designed to re-supply troops, to reduce the actual loads manually carried by Marines, and to provide an immediate means for the evacuation of any casualties in combat. A Marine unit will operate GUSS during the Naval Laboratory’s enhanced company operations experimentation that coincides with RIMPAC.

Virginia Tech and TORC, a company founded by alumni of the university’s robotics program, http://www.torctech.com/ share a very successful track record on their collaborations. Together, they developed autonomous vehicles for the Urban Challenge competition sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 2006 and in 2007. “The focus of the collaborations is to leverage the research capabilities of the university with the commercialization capabilities of a small business,” said Al Wicks, professor of mechanical engineering (ME) at Virginia Tech and faculty advisor to the team. http://www.me.vt.edu/people/faculty/wicks.html

They took home third place honors in 2007 when their vehicle completed DARPA’s 60-mile course in less than six hours, with no human intervention allowed past the starting line.

The four GUSS vehicles headed to Hawaii are an outgrowth of the technology developed for these DARPA competitions, Wicks said. The sensors have been greatly improved, as well as the perception, planning, and control algorithms to navigate complex environments.

The Urban Challenge featured a cooperative environment with well-defined roads for the competition. When the GUSS vehicles are used by the Marine Corps in Hawaii, they will be “off-road and not in a cooperative environment,” Wicks said. “This is a big step forward in autonomous vehicles.”

Michael Fleming, a Virginia Tech ME graduate and the founder and chief executive officer of TORC, explained the team synergism, saying “I believe our team of government, academia, and industry all working together has provided the Marine Corps with a well-balanced solution.”

As an example, existing algorithms developed by students under previous TORC/Virginia Tech partnerships, were used to create a customized version of the TORC AutonoNav (autonomous navigation system) product to provide the advanced off-road tactical behaviors required to meet the needs of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab.

The rapid development and experimentation on the GUSS project was made possible through the use of TORC’s Robotic Building Blocks product line, said David Cutter, marketing manager at TORC. This enabled Virginia Tech engineers to leverage off-the-shelf technologies and focus on system integration challenges. The entire development process was completed in less than a year, with the first prototype delivered for testing in six months. The additional three vehicles were produced in the next five months to be shipped to the RIMPAC exercises.

The WaySight, developed by TORC, is the primary operator interface for controlling the GUSS vehicles. Using the one-pound handheld unit, Marines are able to command the unmanned vehicles in several modes depending on the mission. The operator may use the WaySight to rapidly plan a new path, take remote control of the vehicle, or direct it to follow at a safe distance with the autonomous navigation system taking over.

The project is part of a five-year contract between the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division and Virginia Tech that is supporting a number of different projects. The contract is an on-going agreement between Dahlgren and Virginia Tech’s Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS) to foster innovative research.

The engineering students who participated in the project and their hometowns are: Patrick Currier of Murfreesboro, Tenn., Phillip Tweedy of Lynchburg, Va., James May of Atlanta, Ga., Jason Doyle of Blue Ridge, Va., and Everett Braden of Roanoke, Va.

Further information may be obtained from the following:
Virginia Tech: Al Wicks, awicks@vt.edu
TORC: David Cutter, cutter@torctech.com
Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, Brent Azzarelli, brent.j.azzarelli@navy.mil

Lynn Nystrom | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.vt.edu

More articles from Automotive Engineering:

nachricht Improvement of the operating range and increasing of the reliability of integrated circuits
09.11.2016 | Technologie Lizenz-Büro (TLB) der Baden-Württembergischen Hochschulen GmbH

nachricht New algorithm for optimized stability of planar-rod objects
11.08.2016 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

All articles from Automotive Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's AIM observes early noctilucent ice clouds over Antarctica

05.12.2016 | Earth Sciences

Shape matters when light meets atom

05.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”

05.12.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>