In August of 2003 at Fort Benning, Georgia, a team from the Army Research Lab (ARL) developed and tested a "system-of-systems" that connects Soldiers, robots, and unattended ground sensors (UGS) into a network, in order to increase situational awareness. This paper will detail the demonstration of the data fusion across the network, in particular, acoustic and robotic sensors as well as the digital mapping capabilities.
As the Army transforms to the Objective Force, particular attention must be paid to operations in Complex and Urban Terrain. Because our adversaries realize that we don’t have battlefield dominance in the urban environment, and because population growth and migration to urban environments is still on the increase, our adversaries will continue to draw us into operations in the urban environment. The Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is developing technology to equip our soldiers for the urban operations of the future. Sophisticated small robotic platforms with diverse sensor suites will be an integral part of the Future Force, and must be able to collaborate not only amongst themselves but also with their manned partners. The Army Research Laboratory has developed a Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA) sensor payload for integration onto an iRobot Packbot. The RSTA sensor payload is equipped with an acoustic array that will detect and localize on an impulsive noise event, such as a sniper's weapon firing. Additionally, the robot sensor head is equipped with visible and thermal camera for operations both day and night. The RSTA sensor head equipped Packbot can then be deployed by dismounted soldiers to enhance their situational awareness in the urban environment. The information from one Packbot can then be fused with other sensors as part of a sensor network. Sensor equipped Packbots provides an awesome capability to the future dismounted infantry soldier during warfighting and peacekeeping operations in complex and urban terrain by enhancing their situational awareness and improving their survivability.