Robotics Technology May Keep Soldiers Far From Harm

Robotics Technology May Keep Soldiers Far From Harm

By Dialogo
August 05, 2011

Unmanned ground vehicles allow warfighters to perform surveillance, route clearance and threat defeat from safer distances. Tele-operation makes it possible for warfighters to maintain even greater standoff distances while conducting these dangerous tasks.

New technology developed by the U.S. Army Tank Research, Development and Engineering Command’s Tank and Automotive Research Center may make it possible to perform these missions at an even greater distance, possibly far from the battlefield.

The military currently operates unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, in theater but can control them from the United States. This has proven very effective in Iraq and Afghanistan, so in May 2010, the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Ground Vehicle Robotics (GVR) team undertook an initiative to determine whether unmanned ground assets could be similarly controlled.

“While UAS are flying in theater, they’re being controlled from here,” remarked GVR Robotics System Integration Laboratory Electrical Engineer Ty Valascho. “Our task within GVR was to see if we could get that capability working and be able to drive it using all in-house assets.”

TARDEC’s Long Distance Tele-Operation system allows operators to access a secure Web portal and log into the system. Miles away, the UGVs have already been dialed-in. Once connected, the operator selects a platform from a drop-down menu and is directed to a user interface screen that includes a variety of commands and a video link with the platform.

Directional Associates worked with the original equipment manufacturers to get interface information about the fielded robotic platforms, which enabled the LDTO capability to be integrated onto UGVs. The system has been demonstrated with the TALON, PackBot and Omni-Directional Inspection System platforms.

GVR associates also worked with academic partners through the Ground Robotics Research Center, or GRRC, to design a secure Web portal that allows users to log into the system and operate the systems over the Internet.

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