Currently, the 3000+ robotic systems fielded in theater are entirely teleoperated. This constant dependence on operator
control introduces several problems, including a large cognitive load on the operator and a limited ability for the operator
to maintain an appropriate level of situational awareness of his surroundings. One solution to reduce the dependence on
teleoperation is to develop autonomous behaviors for the robot to reduce the strain on the operator.
We consider mapping and navigation to be fundamental to the development of useful field autonomy for small
unmanned ground vehicles (SUGVs). To this end, we have developed baseline autonomous capabilities for our SUGV
platforms, making use of the open-source Robot Operating System (ROS) software from Willow Garage, Inc. Their
implementations of mapping and navigation are drawn from the most successful published academic algorithms in
In this paper, we describe how we bridged our previous work with the Packbot Explorer to incorporate a new processing
payload, new sensors, and the ROS system configured to perform the high-level autonomy tasks of mapping and
waypoint navigation. We document our most successful parameter selection for the ROS navigation software in an
indoor environment and present results of a mapping experiment.