NREC Receives $14.4 Million to Develop and Demonstrate Next-Generation Autonomous Ground Vehicle
The US Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) awarded a $14.4 million contract to develop an advanced, autonomous, unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) to Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC).
The TARDEC contract funds NREC to build an updated version of the center’s successful “Crusher” UGV as part of the Autonomous Platform Demonstrator (APD) program. Additionally, TARDEC plans to add to the contract, on a work directive basis, additional effort for NREC Engineers to develop an Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) end-to-end control architecture and demonstrate the viability of autonomous UGV operations in a relevant environment as part of the Robotic Vehicle Control Architecture (RVCA) program.
“We’re delighted that NREC will play a key role in showing how advanced autonomous vehicles work in FCS (Future Combat Systems) settings,” said NREC Director John Bares. “Our goal will be to develop, integrate and test a high-performance UGV with the most up-to-date mobility and autonomy technologies.”
The new Autonomous Platform Demonstrator will utilize lessons learned from the Crusher platform, which was unveiled in 2006. Since then, the 6.5-ton Crusher has demonstrated unparalleled toughness and mobility during extensive field trials in extremely rugged terrain. The APD will make use of the latest suspension, vehicle frame, and hybrid-electric drive technologies to improve upon its predecessor’s performance. The enhanced mobility capabilities will push the envelope for autonomous and semi-autonomous operation.
In the RVCA program, NREC engineers will develop a comprehensive control architecture that makes use of hardware and software components. The RVCA program will evaluate where semi-autonomous UGV operations can be feasibly included in FCS. It will also demonstrate autonomous maneuver functions by integrating RVCA onto the APD.