The U.S. Army Research Laboratory's (ARL) Computational and Information Sciences Directorate (CISD) has long
been involved in autonomous asset control, specifically as it relates to small robots. Over the past year, CISD has been
making strides in the implementation of three areas of small robot autonomy, namely platform autonomy, Soldier-robot
interface, and tactical behaviors. It is CISD's belief that these three areas must be considered as a whole in order to
provide Soldiers with useful capabilities.
In addressing the Soldier-robot interface aspect, CISD has begun development on a unique dismounted controller called
the Future Operator Control Unit: Soldier (FOCU:S) that is based on an Apple iPod Touch. The iPod Touch's small
form factor, unique touch-screen input device, and the presence of general purpose computing applications such as a web
browser combine to give this device the potential to be a disruptive technology.
Setting CISD's implementation apart from other similar iPod or iPhone-based devices is the ARL software that allows
multiple robotic platforms to be controlled from a single OCU. The FOCU:S uses the same Agile Computing
Infrastructure (ACI) that all other assets in the ARL robotic control system use, enabling automated asset discovery on
any type of network. Further, a custom ad hoc routing implementation allows the FOCU:S to communicate with the
ARL ad hoc communications system and enables it to extend the range of the network.
This paper will briefly describe the current robotic control architecture employed by ARL and provide short descriptions
of existing capabilities. Further, the paper will discuss FOCU:S specific software developed for the iPod Touch,
including unique capabilities enabled by the device's unique hardware.