Soldiers operate a PackBot unmanned ground vehicle at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, during counter-IED training. (Army)
The Defense Department is looking to improve the quality of data that is transmitted from unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) to their operators.
A small business innovation research solicitation, which ends Sept. 25, seeks to tackle the problem of representing a dense environment to an operator when low bandwidth limits the amount of sensor data that can be transmitted.
“In such scenarios, bandwidth limitations prevent rich scene representations from being transmitted from the vehicle to the operator in a timely manner,” notes the solicitation. “In addition, high latency may have a destabilizing effect, causing commands issued by the operator to lead to unsafe actions by the vehicle.”
The project envisions solutions through better data compression and scene representation to minimize bandwidth requirements, including condensing raw sensor data into “primitives” that can be easily recognized by an operator. Should communications be lost with the operator, improved autonomous algorithms would enhance the safety of the UGV.