The US Navy and other Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) organizations are increasingly interested in the use of unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) for a variety of missions and applications. In order for USVs to fill these roles, they must be capable of a relatively high degree of autonomous navigation. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, San Diego is developing core technologies required for robust USV operation in a real-world environment, primarily focusing on autonomous navigation, obstacle avoidance, and path planning.
Development of Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) has been ongoing for decades. Much of the technology developed for UGVs can be applied directly to Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) with little or no modification. SPAWAR Systems Center San Diego (SSC San Diego) has successfully demonstrated this by transitioning technology (both hardware and software) from a man-portable UGV to a USV demonstrator platform. By transitioning technology already proven in a UGV, SSC San Diego was able to develop a working USV much more quickly than would have been otherwise possible. The technologies ported from the UGV to the USV include: the software architecture and protocol, teleoperation, a Kalman filter for state estimates, waypoint navigation, the Operator Control Unit (OCU), miniature processors, Ethernet switches and a video CODEC board.