UGV Automated Behavior Generation Using Virtual Environments [ETC/UMD Team]
As Unmanned Systems use increases, a corresponding interest is reducing development and operating costs. Two principal cost factors are continuous human operator remote control [where both labor costs and communication channels and bandwidth are issues], and costs associated with development of autonomy software [for cases where autonomous or semi-autonomous unmanned systems operations are desirable or necessary]. ETC and the University of Maryland Robotics Center are teamed in an ONR funded project to build and demonstrate small mission-plausible Unmanned Ground Vehicle [UGV] prototypes that allow accelerated behaviors and software development in a simulated environment, capturing and evolving human expert behaviors, and automatically generating computer code for autonomous behavior software to be placed in the UGVís control software programs.
To accomplish project goals, our team is developing an interface for capturing behaviors demonstrated by experts with the ability to extract behavior fragments from expert driver examples, implementing an active-learning based terrain traversability model, constructing a maneuver library and fast adaptation algorithms, prototyping a maneuver planner on simple and rugged terrain and testing and demonstrating sponsor specified automatically generated behaviors in several autonomously controlled UGV demonstrations. Our major demonstrations will focus on terrain traversability models enabling the physical platform to maneuver in mapped terrains, and on demonstrating the automatically generated behaviors do indeed reduce development costs.
Based on accomplishments to date, we anticipate that the combination of code synthesis and behavior capture using a high-fidelity simulated environment is in fact capable of significant reduction in the cost of updating, porting, or building new behaviors for automated platforms; we anticipate transitioning this work to DoNís Autonomous Unmanned Ground System Future Naval Capability program.
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