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Unmanned Vehicle “Swarming”

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August 31, 2007

Unmanned Vehicle “Swarming”

Unmanned Vehicle “Swarming”

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September 1, 2007 The dynamics of the battlefield have changed many times over the centuries as new "killer" technologies have emerged, and another change is about to occur thanks to the evolving role of unmanned systems. As on-board sensor data processing technologies have improved dramatically, the vehicles can function as fully robotic systems, capable of making their own decisions. With these technologies, unmanned systems can act as part of a distributed, intelligent network on the battlefield, processing, sharing and communicating critical data. As a key component of joint, network-centric operations, intelligent vehicles can perform the data processing and communications normally handled by personnel in the field or at a centralized location.

Unmanned vehicles equipped with on-board sensor data processing capabilities developed by Augusta Systems Inc. successfully “swarmed” during recent field tests and demonstrations, operating autonomously, with limited intervention by human operators.

Augusta Systems, which provides technologies for distributed, intelligent networks featuring data from edge assets, participated in the Naval Air Systems Command sponsored tests and demonstrations, held at a National Aeronautics and Space Administration facility on Wallops Island, Va.

For the tests and demonstrations, components of Augusta Systems SensorBridge and SensorPort products were combined with other commercial products, including mesh networking technologies from Motorola and ITT Corporation, to form a payload computer installed on-board four unmanned ground vehicles and two Aerosonde Mk III unmanned aerial vehicles from AAI Corporation, a United Industrial Corporation subsidiary.

SensorBridge is a suite of software components for Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 for building and managing intelligent networks, systems, and applications featuring data from edge assets within an integrated development environment. SensorPort is a reconfigurable network appliance for distributed, intelligent processing at the edge of the network.

Distributed, on-board collaborative control algorithms, which enable a single operator to coordinate and control multiple vehicles, were implemented on the payload computers to enable the swarming capabilities among the six air and ground vehicles. With on-board collaborative control, the vehicles operate as a group, functioning together as a “swarm.” The swarm can process and communicate relevant information, allowing the individual vehicles and group to change direction, autonomously, in response to sensor inputs. The algorithms were developed by NewVectors LLC, a division of TechTeam Government Solutions, Inc., a TechTeam Global subsidiary.

Other technologies utilized in the demonstration included geospatial displays and user/operator interfaces developed using SensorBridge and geographic information system software.

“Our technologies, combined with on-board collaborative control algorithms and mesh networking technologies, have dramatically increased the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of these vehicles,” said Patrick Esposito, president and chief operating officer of Augusta Systems. “By utilizing components of our SensorBridge and SensorPort products with other customized features, we’ve essentially provided the vehicles with the brains to act with intelligence. The vehicles no longer act alone, as independent, remote controlled cameras, but as intelligent computing systems in a collaborative, networked environment.”

Augusta Systems’ technologies power distributed, intelligent networks. The technologies extend enterprise networks by enabling rapid integration, intelligent processing, and enterprise utilization of data from sensors, actuators, and other edge systems and devices. Augusta Systems products enable the most efficient and effective convergence and use of data from edge systems and devices for numerous applications, including security, monitoring, automation, and asset tracking, among others.

The company's core products are SensorBridge, EdgeFrontier, and SensorPort. SensorBridge is a suite of software components for Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 for building and managing intelligent networks, systems, and applications featuring data from edge assets within an integrated development environment. EdgeFrontier provides an extensible edge application server and enterprise service bus for distributed, intelligent networks. SensorPort is a reconfigurable network appliance for distributed, intelligent processing at the edge of the network.

The company also offers its core technologies in conjunction with partner technologies to develop advanced, intelligent sensing and control products. One such product is ThreatViewer, which provides remote monitoring capabilities for industrial, military, and homeland security.

Augusta Systems technologies enable sensors, actuators, systems, and devices relying on a variety of protocols and systems, including wireless sensor networks (featuring ZigBee and other protocols), RFID systems, and imagery devices. The technologies support network-centric systems, IPv6, physical/IT security convergence, M2M communications, and other applications. As a result, the technologies reduce the total cost of ownership for distributed intelligent edge networks and maximize enterprise return on investment for enterprise network assets.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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