Unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) have become part of the modern battlefield, performing important duties such as reconnaissance and surveillance while minimizing risk to ground forces. While the hardware for tactical UGVs (see image above) is constructed to military specifications, the U.S. Army is now exploring the use of commercial software for navigation and other UGV functions.
As part of the Ground Vehicle Autonomous Pathways project, the Army partnered with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) to prototype a software package, as well as a process to adapt uncrewed vehicle technology to UGVs.
The project involves developing software based on data from multiple sensors, which can be used for remote teleoperation of UGVs while keeping humans in the control loop.
Kevin O'Brien, technical director for DIU's autonomy portfolio, said, “There has been a revolution in the techniques and capabilities of uncrewed ground vehicles occurring in the private sector over the past two decades. We're eager to bring these matured technologies back into the Department of Defense where initial work was inspired by the DARPA Grand Challenges."