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Posted: 2/22/2006 8:08:44 AM EDT
Army Testing Unmanned Stryker Convoys


(Source: US Army; issued Feb. 21, 2006)


FORT GORDON, Ga. --- Engineers conducting show-and-tell with a 20-ton robot on the last day of two weeks of trials on Fort Gordon were cautiously optimistic.

Karl Murphy, a software engineer from Robotic Research, said there was a new principle of “Murphy’s Law” at work on the test field Feb. 10.

"One of my professors reminded us that we have 'sight-ons' present whenever an experiment is being viewed,” Murphy said. “The more 'sight-ons' you have, the greater is the potential for something to go wrong."

Tongue in cheek, he continued explaining that sight-on fields increase with the rank and reach of individuals viewing a test. With national, regional and local media rolling cameras, the “sight-on” field was very high that Friday.

The demonstration at Fort Gordon was a part of a much larger program of tests being conducted by the Robotics Technology Integration Team from the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research and Development Engineer Center, General Dynamics Corporation and its sub-contractors.

Jeff Jaczkowski, TARDEC electrical engineer and manager for this Robotic Follower Advanced Technology Demonstrator project, explained what the testing was about and why Fort Gordon was chosen.

Pointing to the two Stryker Infantry Carrier vehicles idling behind him at their base camp on Range 37, Jaczkowski said these vehicles are part of a larger program set to bring vehicle electronics-vetronics technology integration and robotic systems to the force.

The system in testing at Fort Gordon is the robotic follower program. This program seeks to develop robots that can conduct convoy operations. One of the vehicles is called the CAT - short for crew integration and automation test bed. It serves as the manned leader vehicle. The other vehicle serves as an unmanned follower in a convoy.

"We have done a circuit of testing that started in 2003,” Jaczkowski said. “We have done a number of different environments, including Fort Bliss, Texas, that has a primarily sand/desert environment. We did Fort Knox, Ky., where there is more cross-country terrain. There was Fort Indiantown Gap and Letterkenny Army Depot in Pennsylvania.

"We are down here at Fort Gordon for the environment in the forested-type setting. We are focusing on road and long-haul convoy missions."

Jaczkowski said Fort Gordon provides an ideal setting with a 10-kilometer loop that has a three-kilometer stretch of dirt road and the rest is paved. The long stretches of isolated roads allow the teams to put their test vehicles through a series of high-speed tests.

"Yesterday we ran a 100-mile test where the lead vehicle was being driven manually and the robot was following,” Jaczkowski said. “We did this successfully where the average speed was about 22 miles per hour. You may think that 22 miles per hour is not that fast when operational convoys are going 60 to 70 miles per hour. But you have to take into account that we did 68 right turns.

“You don't take right turns at 50 miles per hour, especially with a 20-ton robot."

On straight stretches, the vehicles routinely speed along at more than 40 mph, Jaczkowski said.

Pointing to the bristling array of sensors on the vehicles, Jaczkowski said these vehicles incorporate second-generation ladar-laser radar, forward-looking infrared sensors, and advanced computers to handle autonomous navigation.

For the autonomous follower, engineers are going beyond Global Positioning Systems to link terrain data from the lead vehicle back to the follower vehicle to augment data the follower vehicle gathers from on-board sensors.

"We have a major emphasis to create systems that can operate without GPS. We know that electronic interference can easily jam GPS in a battle zone.

"The idea is to pass electronic bread crumbs from the manned lead vehicle back to the autonomous follower vehicle, and provide high-level proofing of the follower's path so the follower avoids areas that might impede or confuse its autonomous navigation system, while requiring only a minimum of human intervention and control from the lead vehicle," Jaczkowski said.

Jaczkowski characterized all the testing so far as outstanding and gave high marks to the Fort Gordon Battle Lab and range control. Jaczkowski is quick to point out that the testing that he is conducting is not about the relatively new Stryker vehicle.

"The Stryker is a fielded system, but the robotic convoy technology sensors that we have on these units are what we are putting through the research and development stage."

The demonstration conducted before the media Feb. 10 showed how adept the robot is in making decisions. The lead vehicle was manually driven along the road through an area where a gate wa set, with the robot vehicle following about 100 meters behind.

After the lead vehicle passed, the engineers were planning to pull a cord releasing a gate to block the path. The follower vehicle should be able to detect the gate and plot a path around it before continuing, Jaczkowski said.

True to Murphy's Law and the sight-on rule, the chord attached to the spring release broke as engineer Karl Murphy tugged it to release the gate. Undaunted, Murphy reached down and tripped the release. The gate swung into the path of the following robot.

With only a few seconds to assess, the robot slowed, and veered around the gate. It then continued on its path, following the lead vehicle. It was a slight glitch and only served to more graphically demonstrate how perceptive the robot is, Jaczkowski said.

In the future, Jaczkowski speculates the current efforts will lead to manned and unmanned convoys. "There are two avenues that the Army is pursuing. The near-term objective is to automate the function of driving in a convoy vehicle."

Soldiers will remain in the vehicles for now, but by placing a vehicle on auto-pilot, the driver will be able to perform other duties or rest. The long-term objective is to create dedicated unmanned ground vehicles.

In the tests being conducted on Fort Gordon, the lead vehicle develops a path along a route that it transmits to the follower vehicle that can follow the path immediately or weeks later.

"This is the beginning of going from point A to point B autonomously," Jaczowski said.

He said the payoff will be in saving lives from such routine missions as resupplying forces in environments like Iraq where roadside bombs wreak havoc.

The group will continue testing Feb. 24 to March 10, Jaczowski said.


Link Posted: 2/22/2006 8:15:26 AM EDT
...Skynet began to learn at a geometric rate. It become self-aware at 2:14 am Eastern time, August 29th.
Link Posted: 2/22/2006 8:22:08 AM EDT
tag
Link Posted: 2/22/2006 8:34:05 AM EDT
I don't believe it was a Stryker I saw last Sunday, but driving north out of Atlanta I passed a flat bed semi that had a Ford tactical vehicle on it. From what I saw, it was similar to one of their new pick up trucks in shape, was desert color, had heavy armor, and had a machine gun mount on the roof.

I really wanted to get a better look at it, but traffic was bad. I did look back and see a Ford oval on the grill area. I knew right then....I want one!
Link Posted: 2/22/2006 8:37:32 AM EDT
Link Posted: 2/22/2006 9:07:18 AM EDT

Originally Posted By pcsutton:
I don't believe it was a Stryker I saw last Sunday, but driving north out of Atlanta I passed a flat bed semi that had a Ford tactical vehicle on it. From what I saw, it was similar to one of their new pick up trucks in shape, was desert color, had heavy armor, and had a machine gun mount on the roof.

I really wanted to get a better look at it, but traffic was bad. I did look back and see a Ford oval on the grill area. I knew right then....I want one!



IIRC, the Navy has gotten into the tactical guntruck business.
Their platform called for the F350/F350.
You might have seen one of those.

The US Army's COMBATT truck project was for unarmed transport trucks (Ford or Dodge).
Link Posted: 2/22/2006 9:09:51 AM EDT
One step closer to the EDD209.
Link Posted: 2/22/2006 9:35:51 AM EDT
Thanks for posting this. Can you link to a source? I'm going to reference this in a research paper if I can.
Link Posted: 2/22/2006 9:40:46 AM EDT

Originally Posted By mfingar:
...Skynet began to learn at a geometric rate. It become self-aware at 2:14 am Eastern time, August 29th.



First thing I thought about when I read the title.
Link Posted: 2/22/2006 9:48:33 AM EDT

Originally Posted By jmarkma:

Originally Posted By mfingar:
...Skynet began to learn at a geometric rate. It become self-aware at 2:14 am Eastern time, August 29th.



First thing I thought about when I read the title.



Me too.
Link Posted: 2/22/2006 10:15:20 AM EDT
I think "robo" sounds much more menacing than "unmanned".
Link Posted: 2/22/2006 11:28:07 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/22/2006 11:29:27 AM EDT by COLE-CARBINE]

Originally Posted By Iram:
Thanks for posting this. Can you link to a source? I'm going to reference this in a research paper if I can.



your-robo-linkage.....
(It's under press releases on the right side.)
Link Posted: 2/22/2006 11:55:50 AM EDT


Obligatory Stryker pic.....
Link Posted: 2/22/2006 12:00:37 PM EDT
So...they really DO have a 'Killbot Factory'

I knew it

Link Posted: 2/22/2006 2:50:46 PM EDT
Wonder if they will ever do an un-manned job on one of these?



Link Posted: 2/22/2006 3:31:16 PM EDT

Originally Posted By COLE-CARBINE:

Originally Posted By Iram:
Thanks for posting this. Can you link to a source? I'm going to reference this in a research paper if I can.



your-robo-linkage.....
(It's under press releases on the right side.)



Thanks!
Link Posted: 2/22/2006 6:47:37 PM EDT
night crew bump
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 6:04:43 PM EDT

The Stryker is driven robotically through the range at Fort Gordon, Ga., Feb. 10, 2006, during testing for future development of robots that can conduct convoy operations. U.S. Army photo by Larry Edmond

hi-res linkage
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 6:05:47 PM EDT
Might be interesting to put the XM-307 mount on the UGV on the Stryker.
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 6:06:38 PM EDT

Originally Posted By COLE-CARBINE:
www.generaldynamics.com/prod_serv/combat/Stryker/Stryker%20at%20Yakima%20Training%20Center.JPG

Obligatory Stryker pic.....



Ahh, Yakima Training Center, my old hangout. The Sage is dead giveaway.
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 6:08:03 PM EDT

Originally Posted By COLE-CARBINE:
www.defenselink.mil/transformation/images/photos/2006-02/20060223a.jpg
The Stryker is driven robotically through the range at Fort Gordon, Ga., Feb. 10, 2006, during testing for future development of robots that can conduct convoy operations. U.S. Army photo by Larry Edmond

hi-res linkage



So, what's to stop some body from shooting up the sensors, then salvaging guns and ammo from the wreck?
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 6:22:19 PM EDT

Originally Posted By PreMed_Gunner:

Originally Posted By COLE-CARBINE:
www.defenselink.mil/transformation/images/photos/2006-02/20060223a.jpg
The Stryker is driven robotically through the range at Fort Gordon, Ga., Feb. 10, 2006, during testing for future development of robots that can conduct convoy operations. U.S. Army photo by Larry Edmond

hi-res linkage



So, what's to stop some body from shooting up the sensors, then salvaging guns and ammo from the wreck?



Good question. Armored housings? I guess it's no different then worrying about... say an M1 tanks sensors getting shot. We have to remeber this thing will not be operating alone and I don't figure it will be long before if an enemy does manage to score a hit the other units will probably auto-track the source of fire and smash it quickly. Regardless humans will be in the loop but hopefully out of dangers way.

semi-related cool link......
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 7:40:22 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/23/2006 7:42:09 PM EDT by Troy]
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 7:44:17 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/23/2006 7:45:05 PM EDT by WildBoar]

Originally Posted By Wraithtouch:
www.carlcritchlow.com/Resources/battletech.jpg



Those hunting insurgents painted like clowns. Or pacing back and forth on our borders.
Link Posted: 2/26/2006 5:36:10 PM EDT
weekend bump
Link Posted: 2/27/2006 4:54:18 PM EDT
(variation of artcile with a bit different info)

Army testing unmanned Stryker convoys
FORT GORDON, Ga. (Army News Service, Feb. 21, 2006) -- Engineers conducting show-and-tell with a 20-ton robot on the last day of two weeks of trials on Fort Gordon were cautiously optimistic.

The demonstration at Fort Gordon was a part of a much larger program of tests being conducted by the Robotics Technology Integration Team from the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research and Development Engineer Center, General Dynamics Corporation and its sub-contractors.

Jeff Jaczkowski, TARDEC electrical engineer and manager for this Robotic Follower Advanced Technology Demonstrator project, explained what the testing was about and why Fort Gordon was chosen.Pointing to the two Stryker Infantry Carrier vehicles idling behind him at their base camp on Range 37, Jaczkowski said these vehicles are part of a larger program set to bring vehicle electronics-vetronics technology integration and robotic systems to the force.

The system in testing at Fort Gordon is the robotic follower program. This program seeks to develop robots that can conduct convoy operations. One of the vehicles is called the CAT - short for crew integration and automation test bed. It serves as the manned leader vehicle. The other vehicle serves as an unmanned follower in a convoy. Jaczkowski said Fort Gordon provides an ideal setting with a 10-kilometer loop that has a three-kilometer stretch of dirt road and the rest is paved. The long stretches of isolated roads allow the teams to put their test vehicles through a series of high-speed tests.

"Yesterday we ran a 100-mile test where the lead vehicle was being driven manually and the robot was following,” Jaczkowski said. “We did this successfully where the average speed was about 22 miles per hour. You may think that 22 miles per hour is not that fast when operational convoys are going 60 to 70 miles per hour. But you have to take into account that we did 68 right turns. “You don't take right turns at 50 miles per hour, especially with a 20-ton robot." On straight stretches, the vehicles routinely speed along at more than 40 mph, Jaczkowski said.

Pointing to the bristling array of sensors on the vehicles, Jaczkowski said these vehicles incorporate second-generation ladar-laser radar, forward-looking infrared sensors, and advanced computers to handle autonomous navigation.For the autonomous follower, engineers are going beyond Global Positioning Systems to link terrain data from the lead vehicle back to the follower vehicle to augment data the follower vehicle gathers from on-board sensors.
Link Posted: 2/28/2006 4:55:05 PM EDT
LINK

Robotic Trucks and Robotic Strykers
February 28, 2006: The U.S. Army is testing the use of robotic trucks, escorted by manned, and unmanned, combat vehicles. Experiments are also being made with robotic Strykers. This is not a big leap, as the Stryker is already referred to by its users as a vehicle you "boot" instead of start. The Stryker can be driven by remote control, and its weapons operated remotely as well.

Robotic vehicle technology has made great strides in the last few years, and is moving ahead rapidly in the areas of reliability and ruggedness. Robotic trucks have many advantages. In addition to cutting manpower requirement, in situations like Iraq, having fewer non-combat troops in the convoy would make things easier for the escorting troops. Most convoys don't move that fast, which means the robotic vehicles don't have to make a lot of quick driving decisions. The army doesn't expect to use robotic trucks in Iraq, but if the technology keeps getting better at a faster rate, that could change. Whatever the case, the army expect to need fewer truck drivers in the future, and more robotic vehicle technicians. This is a trend that has been going on the military since World War II.

Link Posted: 2/28/2006 6:00:46 PM EDT
Exterminate! exterminate! exterminate!
Link Posted: 2/28/2006 6:05:38 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/28/2006 6:06:56 PM EDT by ElCamino]

Originally Posted By PreMed_Gunner:

Originally Posted By COLE-CARBINE:
www.defenselink.mil/transformation/images/photos/2006-02/20060223a.jpg
The Stryker is driven robotically through the range at Fort Gordon, Ga., Feb. 10, 2006, during testing for future development of robots that can conduct convoy operations. U.S. Army photo by Larry Edmond

hi-res linkage



So, what's to stop some body from shooting up the sensors, then salvaging guns and ammo from the wreck?



Because once a couple of them blow up in the middle of an Arabic Car Swarm (TM) Johnny Jihadi might get the picture to not mess with them.

ETA: I mean, really, why make a robot if you can't make it a suicide bomber robot? Just in case of emergency....
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