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Proceedings Paper

Architecture for autonomy
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Paper Abstract

In 2002 Defence R&D Canada changed research direction from pure tele-operated land vehicles to general autonomy for land, air, and sea craft. The unique constraints of the military environment coupled with the complexity of autonomous systems drove DRDC to carefully plan a research and development infrastructure that would provide state of the art tools without restricting research scope. DRDC's long term objectives for its autonomy program address disparate unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), unattended ground sensor (UGS), air (UAV), and subsea and surface (UUV and USV) vehicles operating together with minimal human oversight. Individually, these systems will range in complexity from simple reconnaissance mini-UAVs streaming video to sophisticated autonomous combat UGVs exploiting embedded and remote sensing. Together, these systems can provide low risk, long endurance, battlefield services assuming they can communicate and cooperate with manned and unmanned systems. A key enabling technology for this new research is a software architecture capable of meeting both DRDC's current and future requirements. DRDC built upon recent advances in the computing science field while developing its software architecture know as the Architecture for Autonomy (AFA). Although a well established practice in computing science, frameworks have only recently entered common use by unmanned vehicles. For industry and government, the complexity, cost, and time to re-implement stable systems often exceeds the perceived benefits of adopting a modern software infrastructure. Thus, most persevere with legacy software, adapting and modifying software when and wherever possible or necessary -- adopting strategic software frameworks only when no justifiable legacy exists. Conversely, academic programs with short one or two year projects frequently exploit strategic software frameworks but with little enduring impact. The open-source movement radically changes this picture. Academic frameworks, open to public scrutiny and modification, now rival commercial frameworks in both quality and economic impact. Further, industry now realizes that open source frameworks can reduce cost and risk of systems engineering. This paper describes the Architecture for Autonomy implemented by DRDC and how this architecture meets DRDC's current needs. It also presents an argument for why this architecture should also satisfy DRDC's future requirements as well.

Paper Details

Date Published: 9 May 2006
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 6230, Unmanned Systems Technology VIII, 62300H (9 May 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.669496
Show Author Affiliations
Gregory S. Broten, Defence Research and Development Canada Suffield (Canada)
Simon P. Monckton, Defence Research and Development Canada Suffield (Canada)
Jack Collier, Defence Research and Development Canada Suffield (Canada)
Jared Giesbrecht, Defence Research and Development Canada Suffield (Canada)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6230:
Unmanned Systems Technology VIII
Grant R. Gerhart; Charles M. Shoemaker; Douglas W. Gage, Editor(s)

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