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Press Release

Contact:
Anne Watzman
412-268-3830

For immediate release:
August 26, 2003

Carnegie Mellon's National Robotics Engineering Consortium on Team Selected To Develop Autonomous Navigation Technology for Army's Future Combat System

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Consortium (NREC), part of the Robotics Institute in the School of Computer Science, has been selected to be part of a team formed by General Dynamics Robotics Systems (GDRS) to negotiate toward a contract to develop an Autonomous Navigation System (ANS) for unmanned and manned ground vehicles.

The choice of GDRS, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics Land Systems, was announced by the Army's Future Combat System integrator team, which includes The Boeing Co. and Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC).

In the Future Combat Systems ANS program, the GDRS team will design, develop, integrate, test and manufacture a system capable of autonomously controlling any of several vehicles designated by the Army, including the Multi-functional Utility Logistics Equipment (MULE) platform, the Armed Reconnaissance Vehicle (ARV) and Manned Ground Vehicles. The ANS program will provide navigational, perception, path-planning and vehicle-following algorithms, as well as the requisite on-board sensor package for autonomous mobility.

The National Robotics Engineering Consortium will be a major subcontractor to GDRS and will lead the development of perception and path planning within the Autonomous Navigation System.

"We are excited about this opportunity to transition over a decade's worth of unmanned ground vehicle autonomy research to support the transformation objectives of the Future Combat Systems program," said Anthony Stentz, associate director of the NREC.

"Development of a production-quality Autonomous Navigation System will advance the mobile robotics field and increase the safety of soldiers by eliminating the need for them to directly operate the Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV)."

"The Robotics Institute and the NREC are leading robotics research and technology transfer organizations," said Mark Del Giorno, vice president of engineering at GDRS. "Their presence on our team provides us with field-tested sensory processing and tactical planning as we jointly develop the ANS."

During the past three years, the National Robotics Engineering Consortium has served as the prime contractor and systems engineer for four technology development programs directly related to Future Combat Systems Unmanned Ground Vehicles. The NREC Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicle (UGCV) team designed and built a six-ton, fully invertible, six-wheel drive hybrid electric vehicle suitable for armed reconnaissance missions. Another NREC team was recently selected to build a half-ton, highly mobile UGV for the US Marine Gladiator program. The Marines also funded the Robotics Engineering Consortium to build Dragon Runner, a portable robot or "throwbot" that military personnel can throw over a wall or into a building to support urban reconnaissance missions.

The NREC is also leading a team into Phase III of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's PerceptOR program to further develop and test autonomous navigation systems for off-road terrain.

For more information on the FCS program, see: www.boeing.com/defense-space/ic/fcs/bia/flash.html.

For more information about the National Robotics Engineering Consortium, see: www.rec.ri.cmu.edu.

For more information on Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute see: www.ri.cmu.edu.

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