This paper describes the latest efforts to develop an Automated UAV Mission System (AUMS) for small vertical takeoff
and landing (VTOL) unmanned air vehicles (UAVs). In certain applications such as force protection, perimeter security,
and urban surveillance a VTOL UAV can provide far greater utility than fixed-wing UAVs or ground-based sensors. The
VTOL UAV can operate much closer to an object of interest and can provide a hover-and-stare capability to keep its
sensors trained on an object, while the fixed wing UAV would be forced into a higher altitude loitering pattern where its
sensors would be subject to intermittent blockage by obstacles and terrain.
The most significant disadvantage of a VTOL UAV when compared to a fixed-wing UAV is its reduced flight
endurance. AUMS addresses this disadvantage by providing forward staging, refueling, and recovery capabilities for the
VTOL UAV through a host unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), which serves as a launch/recovery platform and service
station. The UGV has sufficient payload capacity to carry UAV fuel for multiple launch, recovery, and refuel iterations.
The UGV also provides a highly mobile means of forward deploying a small UAV into hazardous areas unsafe for
personnel, such as chemically or biologically contaminated areas. Teaming small UAVs with large UGVs can decrease
risk to personnel and expand mission capabilities and effectiveness.
There are numerous technical challenges being addressed by these development efforts. Among the challenges is the
development and integration of a precision landing system compact and light enough to allow it to be mounted on a
small VTOL UAV while providing repeatable landing accuracy to safely land on the AUMS. Another challenge is the
design of a UGV-transportable, expandable, self-centering landing pad that contains hardware and safety devices for
automatically refueling the UAV. A third challenge is making the design flexible enough to accommodate different types
of VTOL UAVs, such as the AAI iSTAR ducted-fan vehicle and small helicopter UAVs. Finally, a common command-and-control architecture which supports the UAV, UGV, and AUMS must be developed and interfaced with these
systems to allow fully autonomous collaborative behaviors.
Funded by the Joint Robotics Program, AUMS is part of a joint effort with the Air Force Research Laboratory and the
Army Missile Research Development and Engineering Command. The objective is to develop and demonstrate UGVUAV
teaming concepts and work with the warfighter to ensure that future upgrades are focused on operational
This paper describes the latest achievements in AUMS development and some of the military program and first
responder situations that could benefit from this system.
Unmanned ground and air systems operating in collaboration have the potential to provide future Joint Forces a significant capability for operations in complex terrain. Collaborative Engagement Experiment (CEE) is a consolidation of separate Air Force, Army and Navy collaborative efforts within the Joint Robotics Program (JRP) to provide a picture of the future of unmanned warfare. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Material and Manufacturing Directorate, Aerospace Expeditionary Force Division, Force Protection Branch (AFRL/MLQF), The Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) Joint Technology Center (JTC)/Systems Integration Laboratory (SIL), and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center - San Diego (SSC San Diego) are conducting technical research and proof of principle experiments for an envisioned operational concept for extended range, three dimensional, collaborative operations between unmanned systems, with enhanced situational awareness for lethal operations in complex terrain. This paper describes the work by these organizations to date and outlines some of the plans for future work.
Unmanned vehicles perform critical mission functions. Today, fielded unmanned vehicles have restricted operations as a single asset controlled by a single operator. In the future, however, it is envisioned that multiple unmanned air, ground, surface and underwater vehicles will be deployed in an integrated unmanned (and "manned") team fashion in order to more effectively execute complex mission scenarios. To successfully facilitate this transition from single platforms to an integrated unmanned system concept, it is essential to first develop the required base technologies for multi-vehicle mission requirements, as well as test and evaluate such technologies in tightly controlled field experiments. Under such conditions, advances in unmanned technologies and associated system configurations can be empirically evaluated and quantitatively measured against relevant performance metrics. A series of field experiments will be conducted for unmanned force protection system applications. A basic teaming scenario is: Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) detect a target of interest on the ground; the UAVs cue unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) to the area; the UGVs provide on-ground evaluation and assessment; and the team of UAVs and UGVs execute the appropriate level of response. This paper details the scenarios and the technology enablers for experimentation using unmanned protection systems.
Small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are hindered by their limited payload and duration. Consequently, UAVs spend little time in their area of operation, returning frequently to base for refueling. The effective payload and duration of small UAVs is increased by moving the support base closer to the operating area; however this increases risk to personnel. Performing the refueling operations autonomously allows the support base to be located closer to the operating area without increasing risk to personnel. Engineers at SPAWAR Systems Center San Diego (SSC San Diego) are working to develop technologies for automated launch, recovery, refueling, rearming, and re-launching of small UAVs. These technologies are intended to provide forward-refueling capabilities by teaming small UAVs with large unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs). The UGVs have larger payload capacities so they can easily carry fuel for the UAVs in addition to their own fuel and mission payloads. This paper describes a prototype system that launched and recovered a remotely-piloted UAV from a UGV and performed automated refueling of a UAV mockup.
The Segway Robotic Mobility Platform (RMP) is a new mobile robotic platform based on the self-balancing Segway Human Transporter (HT). The Segway RMP is faster, cheaper, and more agile than existing comparable platforms. It is also rugged, has a small footprint, a zero turning radius, and yet can carry a greater payload. The new geometry of the platform presents researchers with an opportunity to examine novel topics, including people-height sensing and actuation modalities. This paper describes the history and development of the platform, its characteristics, and a summary of current research projects involving the platform at various institutions across the United States.