Weapon payloads are becoming increasingly important components of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs). However weapon payloads are extremely difficult to teleoperate. This paper explores the issues involved with automating several aspects of the operations of a weapon payload. These operations include target detection, acquisition, and tracking. Various approaches to these issues are discussed, and the development and results from two different working prototype systems developed at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, San Diego (SSC San Diego) are presented. One approach employs a motion-based scheme for target identification, while the second employs an appearance based scheme. Target selection, arming and firing remain teleoperated in both systems.
The Robotic Systems Pool (RSP), sponsored by the Joint Robotics Program (JRP), is an inventory of small robotic systems, payloads, and components intended to expedite the development and integration of technology into effective, supportable, fielded robotic assets. The RSP loans systems to multiple users including the military, first-responders, research organizations, and academia. These users provide feedback in their specific domain, accelerating research and development improvements of robotic systems, which in turn allow the joint warfighter to benefit from such changes more quickly than from traditional acquisition cycles. Over the past year, RSP assets have been used extensively for pre-deployment operator and field training of joint Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams, and for the training of Navy Reservist repair technicians. These Reservists are part of the Robotic Systems Combat Support Platoon (RSCSP), attached to Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, San Diego. The RSCSP maintains and repairs RSP assets and provides deployable technical support for users of robotic systems. Currently, a small team from the RSCSP is deployed at Camp Victory repairing and maintaining man-portable unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) used by joint EOD teams in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The focus of this paper is to elaborate on the RSP and RSCSP and their role as invaluable resources for spiral development in the robotics community by gaining first-hand technical feedback from the warfighter and other users.