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US Army Research Helping the Development of Autonomous Sight Systems

Photonics.com
Sep 2017
ABERDEEN, Md., Sept. 19, 2017 — The development of small autonomous robots through a 10-year effort led by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is helping to inform the development of future swarms of collaborative, heterogeneous Army systems for air and ground.

Researchers from ARL, the Army's corporate laboratory and their academic partners demonstrated futuristic robotic research platforms for the Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology (MAST) Collaborative Technology Alliance (CTA) capstone event. The demos reinforced scientific rigor, highlighting the quality of the research toward solving Army-relevant problems, noting first-ever and state-of-the-art benchmarks.

"We can expect to see commercial industry advancing the research platforms innovated through this consortium and making their way into future Army autonomous systems,” said Brett Piekarski, manager of the alliance between Army, industry and university researchers since 2012. “Through the MAST program, we've really forced the state of the art and shown what is possible for soldier handheld, portable autonomous systems for extended non-line-of-sight applications."

The U.S. Army recently announced its next focus area for a collaborative technology alliance to be known as Distributed Collaborative Intelligent Systems and Technology (DCIST).

"It's really about high numbers of systems, heterogeneous in nature," Piekarski said. "So, you think of it as air, ground, large, small, soldiers in the loop. How do we do distributed intelligence? And then once we have that decision-making, how do we get the information back out and control these large heterogeneous teams in complex and contested environments?"

The MAST CTA has performed foundational, cross-cutting research to develop the underpinning science for enhanced tactical situational awareness for the dismount in urban and complex terrain by enabling the autonomous and collaborative operation of micro autonomous systems. The program has focused on research areas in mobility, control and energetics, communication, navigation, coordination, sensing, perception, and processing.

The MAST consortium currently includes 19 partners that worked collaboratively in an integrated research effort that incorporated ARL researchers and research themes relevant to each participant. The consortium's four research centers were BAE Systems and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the University of Maryland, the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania. Other consortium members include the University of California, Berkeley; Carnegie-Mellon University; the Georgia Institute of Technology; the University of New Mexico; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Stanford University; Texas A&M University; the University of California, Merced; the University of Delaware; the University of Texas, Austin; Kansas State University; the University of Colorado, Boulder; Bowie State University; and the University of California, San Diego.

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation.

BusinessU.S. Army Research Laboratorydefensesightopticsautonomous systemsAmericas

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