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Autonomous Vehicle Technology Will Keep Soldiers Safer on Air, Land, Sea


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An unmanned aerial vehicle.

Researchers at the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute are developing unmanned vehicles for the military.

Credit: U.S. Army Europe

Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute researchers are developing autonomous warfare technology, including an unmanned air vehicle (UAV) and an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV).

The researchers tested flying the UAV autonomously and deploying the UGV to an outdoor test zone complete with obstructions and vehicle impediments. The UGV was successfully able to autonomously drive across trails and foreign environments by avoiding dangerous obstructions.

The UGV relies on an autonomous system embedded in the vehicle, which performs the computational tasks required for self-driving. The autonomous system uses sensors to survey the nearby environment, which translate the surroundings into an input the autonomous system can read using voxels that paint a picture of what the environment looks like and helps the system measure the risk level using an algorithm. The algorithm calculates the best route to travel based on the conditions of the surrounding environment.

The researchers hope to use the technology to develop an autonomous boat that can navigate and sail by itself. The boat must consider additional factors, such as buoyancy, aquatic animals, capsizing, and sinking. The researchers note accounting for these variables requires a different approach to the autonomous system that is based on the UGV technology.

From Tartan Online (Carnegie Mellon University)
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