Carnegie Mellon receives $14.4 million to develop next-generation autonomous ground vehicle

November 29, 2007

PITTSBURGH-- Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC), part of the Robotics Institute in the School of Computer Science, has won a $14.4 million contract to develop an advanced, autonomous, unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) for the US Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC).

The TARDEC contract funds NREC to build an updated version of the center's successful "Crusher" UGV as part of the Autonomous Platform Demonstrator (APD) program. Additionally, TARDEC plans to add to the contract, on a work directive basis, additional effort for NREC engineers to develop an Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) end-to-end control architecture and demonstrate the viability of autonomous UGV operations in a relevant environment as part of the Robotic Vehicle Control Architecture (RVCA) program.

"We're delighted that NREC will play a key role in showing how advanced autonomous vehicles work in FCS (Future Combat Systems) settings," said NREC Director John Bares. "Our goal will be to develop, integrate and test a high-performance UGV with the most up-to-date mobility and autonomy technologies."

The new Autonomous Platform Demonstrator will utilize lessons learned from the Crusher platform, which was unveiled in 2006. Since then, the 6.5-ton Crusher has demonstrated unparalleled toughness and mobility during extensive field trials in extremely rugged terrain. The APD will make use of the latest suspension, vehicle frame, and hybrid-electric drive technologies to improve upon its predecessor's performance. Enhanced mobility capabilities will push the envelope for autonomous and semi-autonomous operation.

In the RVCA program, NREC engineers will develop a comprehensive control architecture that makes use of hardware and software components. The RCVA program will evaluate where semi-autonomous UGV operations can be feasibly included in FCS. It will also demonstrate autonomous maneuver functions by integrating RVCA onto the APD.
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About NREC: The National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) is the commercialization arm of Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute. NREC works closely with business and government partners to build rugged, capable robots that operate in real-world environments. It is an industry leader in autonomy, mobility, sensing and perception, high-speed machine vision, machine learning, and other key robotic technologies. NREC's 5.5-acre campus is the world's most advanced robotics development facility, with in-house precision machining, rapid prototyping and fabrication capabilities, state-of-the-art computer systems, and extensive on-site and off-site testing grounds. For more, see www.nrec.ri.cmu.edu

About Carnegie Mellon: Carnegie Mellon is a private research university with a distinctive mix of programs in engineering, computer science, robotics, business, public policy, fine arts and the humanities. More than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students receive an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration, and innovation. A small student-to-faculty ratio provides an opportunity for close interaction between students and professors. While technology is pervasive on its 144-acre Pittsburgh campus, Carnegie Mellon is also distinctive among leading research universities for the world-renowned programs in its College of Fine Arts. A global university, Carnegie Mellon has campuses in Silicon Valley, Calif., and Qatar, and programs in Asia, Australia and Europe. For more, see www.cmu.edu.

Carnegie Mellon University

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