Inside Unmanned Systems

JUN-JUL 2017

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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20 unmanned systems inside   April/May 2017 LAND GROUND VEHICLES   June/July 2017 tiveness for the mine, and an up-skilling of min- ing jobs. While we need fewer truck drivers in an autonomous mine, we still need people in a con- trol center, who build a virtual mine, monitor the performance of the system, and react to changes in the mine plan or any anomalies that occur. Those jobs require more technical skill, and can be conducted from an urban center hundreds of kilometers from the mine." And when mines implement this technology, they'll have a f leet of vehicles that can talk to each other to efficiently perform a variety of tasks, Torrie said. With Mobius, the vehicles communicate through the command center, so they're all aware of each other. And these vehicles The SMP S5 from SMP Robotics Systems. " SECURITY CAMERAS ARE GOOD FOR FUTURE INVESTIGATION BUT THEY'RE NOT GOOD FOR PROTECTION. THE ROBOTS ARE MUCH MORE PROACTIVE." Leo Ryzhenko, CEO, SMP Robotics Systems B oth unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) come with a variety of capabilities, but they also have their limitations. Using the systems together, however, can address many of those shortcomings. With that in mind, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) recently secured a patent for technology that makes it possible for drones to cooperate with UGVs, enabling a completely autonomous solution that allows the systems to benefit from each other's capabilities. "If you can transmit the data from the UAS down to the UGV, it allows the UGV to incorporate that sensor data into its world model so it can make more intelligent decisions" said Ryan Lamm, director of SwRI's Applied Sensing Department. "If you have a ground vehicle that actually sees the air vehicle, the UAS doesn't have to have all the sense and avoid capabilities. So you have a lower cost, less intelligent UAS being controlled by a ground system that has better access to power and computation capabilities." The UGV's control system locates and controls the drone, Lamm said. It receives data from both terrestrial and airborne perception sensors, and uses the combined data to determine paths for both vehicles. Sensors on the ground vehicle help identity obstacles, while sensors on the UAS detect low terrain. The capability was originally developed to support defense clients, but Lamm can see the benefits for commercial applications as well. This might include utility and bridge inspections. He envisions the ground vehicle launching the UAS to complete an inspection over a large stretch of area that the UGV navigates. The UAS would return to the vehicle to recharge while the ground vehicle is moving to the next location. The vehicle would have the ability to control more than one UAS, Lamm said. Using multiple drones makes it possible to obtain different visual perspectives at a variety of elevations and angles. It also makes it easier to use different sensor modalities, including thermal cameras and LiDAR. TEAMING WITH UAS will have capabilities that aren't possible today. For example, they won't have to turn around to go another direction. They can just drive back- wards. The direction of travel is no longer im- portant when you don't have a human in front watching for obstacles. Security Security represents another large opportunity for UGVs, which is why SMP Robotics Systems is mostly focusing its efforts in this area, CEO Leo Ryzhenko said. Facilities and large corpora- tions can lease the UGVs to patrol an area. Each SMP S5 autonomous vehicle is trained to look for intruders. If the robots spot something that doesn't look right, the human security guard gets a message telling him or her to check it out. Photos courtesy of SMP Robotics Systems and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) recently secured a patent for technology that makes it possible for UAS to cooperate with UGVs.

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