Southwest Research Institute
UAV-UGV communication

SwRI Coordinates Unmanned Air and Ground Vehicles

May 16, 2017
A patent has been awarded to SwRI for a method of linking UAVs with UGVs to take advantage of the enhanced terrain data.

A patent has been awarded to Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) for technology that allows unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to cooperate with unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs). Ryan Lamm, director of SwRI’s Applied Sensing Department, explained how the patent helps defense-based applications: “We developed this capability to support defense clients seeking solutions to the challenges of unmanned ground vehicles navigating in extreme environments.”

The patent (U.S. patent No. 9,625,904, “Unmanned ground/aerial vehicle system having autonomous ground vehicle that remotely controls one or more aerial vehicles”) details the use of in-air perception sensors on board UAVs that can detect paths to be followed by UGVs, which have their own sets of sensors for guidance. The control system of an UGV locates and controls the aerial vehicle and receives data from its own sensors and those of the UAV. The combined data help determine paths for the UGV as well as for other nearby remotely controlled UAVs.

Such autonomous control eliminates the need for a human operator  when operating multiple unmanned vehicles, providing a safe alternative in hostile environments. The technology also has implications for commercial applications, such as for remote inspection systems.

About the Author

Jack Browne | Technical Contributor

Jack Browne, Technical Contributor, has worked in technical publishing for over 30 years. He managed the content and production of three technical journals while at the American Institute of Physics, including Medical Physics and the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology. He has been a Publisher and Editor for Penton Media, started the firm’s Wireless Symposium & Exhibition trade show in 1993, and currently serves as Technical Contributor for that company's Microwaves & RF magazine. Browne, who holds a BS in Mathematics from City College of New York and BA degrees in English and Philosophy from Fordham University, is a member of the IEEE.

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