As part of a project for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Sandia National Laboratories is developing and testing the feasibility of using of a cooperative team of robotic sentry vehicles to guard a perimeter and to perform surround and diversion tasks. This paper describes on-going activities in the development of these robotic sentry vehicles. To date, we have developed a robotic perimeter detection system which consists of eight 'Roving All Terrain Lunar Explorer Rover' (RATLERTM) vehicles, a laptop-based base-station, and several Miniature Intrusion Detection Sensors (MIDS). A radio frequency receiver on each of the RATLER vehicles alerts the sentry vehicles of alarms from the hidden MIDS. When an alarm is received, each vehicle decides whether it should investigate the alarm based on the proximity of itself and the other vehicles to the alarm. As one vehicle attends an alarm, the other vehicles adjust their position around the perimeter to better prepare for another alarm. We have also demonstrated the ability to drive multiple vehicles in formation via tele-operation or by waypoint GPS navigation. This is currently being extended to include mission planning capabilities. At the base-station, the operator can draw on an aerial map the goal regions to be surrounded and the repulsive regions to be avoided. A potential field path planner automatically generates a path from the vehicles' current position to the goal regions while avoiding the repulsive regions and the other vehicles. This path is previewed to the operator before the regions are downloaded to the vehicles. The same potential field path planner resides on the vehicle, expect additional repulsive forces from on-board proximity sensors guide the vehicle away from unplanned obstacles.
John T. Feddema,
Christopher L. Lewis,
"Control of multiple robotic sentry vehicles", Proc. SPIE 3693, Unmanned Ground Vehicle Technology, (22 July 1999); doi: 10.1117/12.354450; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.354450