Army seeks simpler UAV controls

LITTLETON, Colo., 3 March 2005. PercepTek, Inc., was awarded Part Two of the Unmanned Autonomous Collaborative Operations (UACO) program for the U.S. Army.

LITTLETON, Colo., 3 March 2005. PercepTek, Inc., was awarded Part Two of the Unmanned Autonomous Collaborative Operations (UACO) program for the U.S. Army.

The UACO program will develop and demonstrate a prototype system that will enable a single operator to control multiple unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) to support soldiers operating in urban areas.

The 30-month, $7.9 million contract will culminate in an operational demonstration at Ft. Benning in the fall of 2006. The Part II contract will utilize technologies developed under the previously awarded UACO Part I contract awarded last May at a value of $4.9 million.

The Army's vision for the UACO Program is to develop UAVs that can directly support soldiers operating in urban terrain with minimum oversight and logistics burden. The system will perform reconnaissance and surveillance functions providing soldiers with a direct view of potential threats. The payoff to the warfighter is in increased combat effectiveness through: 1) enhanced lethality from the separation between sensor, shooter, and human user provided by using unmanned assets in a collaborative fashion; 2) improved survivability resulting from increased standoff and decreased human exposure to threats; and 3) higher unit efficiency allowing more attention to critical mission elements due to increased autonomy in UAVs reducing human user workload.

In future operations, unmanned systems must act in concert with manned systems / units and work as a team to accomplish mission-level objectives with minimal human intervention or control. Current technology requires one or more operators per unmanned vehicle, provides limited true autonomy, and lacks inter-vehicle collaboration. Effective employment of unmanned vehicles needs increasing sophistication, capability and robustness in the areas of 1) individual vehicle mission autonomy, 2) collaboration, cooperation and data sharing among a heterogeneous mix of vehicles, and 3) human interaction in a combined manned-unmanned team. Unmanned Autonomous Collaborative Operations (UACO) is an Army Technology Objective (ATO) developed to advance the state of the art in these and, in particular, to demonstrate militarily relevant mission behaviors involving multiple unmanned air vehicles (UAVs).

PercepTek is teamed with General Dynamics Robotics Systems, Carnegie Mellon University, and Micro Analysis and Design. General Dynamics Robotics Systems will be providing the ground control station, a wearable soldier command and control interface compatible with their objective force program, and unmanned ground vehicles. Carnegie Mellon is providing automated guidance, 3 dimensional mapping, and operations planning technologies. Micro Analysis and Design will be providing human factors analysis and design to enable reduced soldier workload.

PercepTek, Inc., a leader in the field of Intelligent Robotics is focused on integration, perception, planning and control for the robotics, surveillance and autonomous vehicle markets. Aggressively pursuing research and development with the commitment to develop and transition advanced technology products, PercepTek works with government sponsored research programs, collaborates with key university and research institutes, and develops strategic long-term relationships with industrial partners to assist in broadening product lines and incorporating automation technologies. For more information, see www.perceptek-robotics.com.

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