We discuss the development, design, implementation, and demonstration of a robotic UGV (Unmanned Ground Vehicle)
system for networked and non-line-of-sight sensing applications. Our development team is comprised of AFRL Summer
Interns, University Faculty, and Personnel from AFRL. The system concept is based on a previously published technique
known as "Dual-UAV Tandems for Indirect Operator-Assisted Control" . This architecture is based on simulating a
Mini-UAV Helicopter with a building-mounted camera and simulating a low-flying QuadRotor Helicopter with a
Robotics UGV. The Robotics UGV is fitted with a custom-designed sensor boom and a surrogate chem/bio (Carbon
Monoxide) PCB sensor extracted from a COTS (Commercial-Off-The-Shelf) product. The CO Sensor apparatus is co-designed
with the sensor boom and is fitted with a transparent covering for protection and to promote CO (surrogate
chem/bio) flow onto the sensor.
The philosophy behind this non-line-of-sight system is to relay video of the UGV to an Operator station for purposes of
investigating "Indirect Operator-Assisted Control" of the UGV via observation of the relayed EO video at the operator
station. This would serve as a sensor fusion, giving the operator visual cues of the chemical under detection, enabling
him to position the UGV in areas of higher concentration. We recorded this data, and analyzed the best approach given a
test matrix of multiple scenarios, with the goal of determining the feasibility of using this layered sensing approach and
the system accuracy in open field tests.
For purposes of collecting scientific data with this system, we developed a Test (data collection) Matrix with following
three parameters: 1. Chem/Bio detection level with side-looking sensor boom and slowly traversing UGV; 2. Chem/Bio
detection level with panning sensor boom and slowly traversing UGV; 3. Chem/Bio detection level with forward-looking
sensor boom and operator-assisted steering based on onboard wind vane readings of UGV display that is
overlayed onto relayed video. In addition to reporting the trends and results of analysis with regard to data collected with
this Test Matrix, we discuss potential approaches to upgrading our networked robotics UGV system and also introduce
the concept of "swapping sensors" with this low-cost networked sensor concept.