Aptima wins multiple unmanned vehicle contracts with U.S. Army, Navy

WOBURN, Mass., 25 Nov. 2007. Aptima Inc., a leader in human-centered engineering, announced the award of three contracts for developing technologies to improve the control and functions of unmanned air, land, and sea vehicles (UxVs) and their integration into military operations. The Army and Navy contracts address a continuum, scaling from how individual unmanned vehicles can be operated with fewer personnel, to the coordination of teams of UxVs used in joint military operations.

Nov 25th, 2007

WOBURN, Mass., 25 Nov. 2007.Aptima Inc., a leader in human-centered engineering, announced the award of three contracts for developing technologies to improve the control and functions of unmanned air, land, and sea vehicles (UxVs) and their integration into military operations. The Army and Navy contracts address a continuum, scaling from how individual unmanned vehicles, such as drones, can be operated with fewer personnel, to the coordination of teams of UxVs used in joint military operations.

Having evolved from a battlefield curiosity to today's use in urban warfare -- for surveillance, to detect and disarm IEDs, and as weapons systems -- UxVs are a key part of the U.S. military's transformation. The pursuit of a "mixed initiative" force of the future that combines humans and robotics requires that unmanned vehicles systems possess 1) greater intelligence by learning from humans, and 2) that human operators wield greater control over the types and number of unmanned air, land, and sea vehicles that can be coordinated simultaneously across missions.

Aptima will address UxVs at the individual, networked, and team of teams levels -- illustrated by three of the contracts below:

C2RAD (Command and Control of Small Robotics Assets Display)
To support the human operator in the field using a robotic vehicle as a forward observer, C2RAD will provide an integrated display that both maps and shows locations of red, green, and blue entities, such as snipers, obstacles, and friendly forces, and shares that data with other troops and command.

Aptima and Lockheed Martin will develop C2RAD to overcome the challenges that lie at the interfaces between human and machine, and between human operators and commanders. Applying new scientific principles concerning human-to-robot and human-to-human collaboration, C2RAD is envisioned as the interface on a handheld device that plans the route of the robotic asset and links its intelligence to others, such as members of a platoon that may be operating in harm's way. This will dramatically improve the real-time situational awareness of field troops and the larger mission concerns by command and control.

MIMIC (Mixed Initiative Machine Instructed Computing)
While unmanned aerial vehicles have advanced, particularly in imagery interpretation, for UAVs to reach full potential as autonomous systems, they will need to "learn" tactical behaviors for operating in unexpected situations and in uncertain environments. The development of MIMIC will help these unmanned systems perform more independently, capturing the knowledge of human operators, and embedding in the control devices the decision-making skills of UAV commanders as to how they generate, select, and execute maneuvers in evading and deceiving the enemy.

COSMIC (Collaborative Optimization System for Mixed-Initiative Control)
For large-scale military operations, such as fleets conducting searches and monitoring large bodies of water for mines and safe ingress and egress, COSMIC will provide a collaborative environment allowing human operators onboard naval combat systems, carriers, or aircraft, to coordinate multiple unmanned vehicles. Building on Aptima's MiDAS project (Mission Displays for Autonomous Systems), COSMIC will help ensure optimal performance of UAV controllers functioning as a team in order to accomplish multiple missions occurring simultaneously.

COSMIC's tools will facilitate the processes that include global resource planning, mission monitoring, and re-planning. Integrated with Lockheed Martin's ICARUS (Intelligent Control and Autonomous Replanning of Unmanned Systems), COSMIC will reduce the human operator workload while improving the shared situation awareness across the entire mission team.

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