Thursday, April 15, 2010

Operating robots with virtual reality

Bagus Manuaba is researching at the ANU how to remote control a machine using virtual reality. Devices such as bomb disposal robots are normally operated by remote control, with an operator looking at a live video display and pushing buttons and operating a joystick. The operator is only a few hundred metres from the robot and so there is little delay transmitting video from the robot to the operator and the operators instructions back. However, as the distance in increases the, delay does also.

Where the operator is on one side of the world and the robot the other, the delay prevents fine control and the robot has to be semi-autonomous. In addition, looking at a flat 2d image makes it hard to control a robot.

Some systems use stereoscopic video, such as the Airbus Military Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) fr the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft being acquired by the Royal Australian Air Force. With this system the operator sits in the aircraft cockpit and fly the boom while looking at a stereoscopic image. Previous systems, such as the KC-135, require the operator to be in the tail of the aircraft. It might be interesting to enhance the Airbus system with virtual reality.

Teleoperation System with Supervisory Control in a Mixed Reality Environment

Bagus Manuaba (SoCS CECS)

CS HDR MONITORING Info & Human Centred Computing Research Group

DATE: 2010-04-15
TIME: 11:30:00 - 12:00:00
LOCATION: Ian Ross Seminar Room

Mixed reality is a new innovation of virtual reality. By combine this innovation with supervisory control in teleoperation system is expected can solve any limitations that occur in teleoperation system today. In this presentation I will give a brief description about teleoperation, supervisory control and mixed reality, and also bring several examples of research that related in this area. In addition, it is also showing the focus and the expected outcomes from my current research.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Australian Robot Aircraft Launched from US Stealth Warship

The Australian developed Aerosonde UAV has been succesfully launced and recorved from the US stealth warship M80 Stletto, according to Janes International Defence Review ("Aerosonde Mark 4.7 UAS proves shipborne capability", March 2010). The AAI Aerosonde Mk 4.7 is one option for the US Navy/US Marine Corp's Small Tactical UAS (STUAS)/Tier II programme. The Aerosone carries visable and infrared sensors and a laser range finder/pointer. The Aerosonde is small enough to be lifted by one person but can fly for 12 hours and an earlier model flew accross the Atlantic Ocean.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Robots at war

"Wired for war : the robotics revolution" (Singer, P. W. 2009) is a very readable book about the use of robots in modern warfare. It suffer from having a very US centric view of the field and providing a few too many anecdotes. But it is an easy read for someone needing an overview.

Singer starts with anecdotes about the use of bomb disposal robots in Iraq. He describes the origins and different development philosophies of the two major companies supplying the US defence department. Having attended a seminar by Professor Rodney Brooks, an Australian from Adelaide and one of the founders of iRobot, I can see that Singer's analysis is insightful.

What is missing is the discussion of the development of robotics outside the USA and the role of the scientific research community. As an example, the Aerosonde UAV, which is now being marketed to the military, was developed in Melbourne, (Australia), for taking meteorological measurements (thus the name "Aero-sonde". The aircraft was later adapted for other remote sensing and military applications.

Aerosonde pioneered small long endurance autonomous UAVs (having flow across the North Atlantic). Previously it was assumed that UAVs small enough for a person to lift would only have a range of a few hours.

One problem with innovation is having something too different from the competition. Aerosonde faced this with their early models which were controlled from an ordinary laptop computer. This removed the need for specialised control units. But rather than being seen as an advantage, this counted as a disadvantage in the logic of military procurement. With the Aerosonde Mark 4.7, released in March, there has been effort to provide compatibility with military UAV systems, such as NATO STANAG 4586 standards for UAV ground stations (also see the STANAG-4586 LinkedIn Group).

Aerosonde also pioneered the idea of UAVs being provided as a service, rather than individual aircraft purchased by the customer. This idea is yet to take off with UAV customers, but with widespread use, it appears an idea who's time has come. This concept is not discussed in Singer's book.

Earlier in the year the Australian and US Defence Departments announced the Multi Autonomous Ground-robotic International Challenge (MAGIC 2010). This is a competition researchers to build a fleet of cooperating autonomous ground vehicle systems (robots) for military and civilian emergency use. These will be tested in Australia in November 2010.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Winged autogyro to make a comeback

Sitting in the cafe of the National Library of Australia today, I was flipping through copies of an Australia aircraft managzine and was struck by the simialries between the designs of lightweight fixed wing and autogyro aircraft. Perhaps by combining the two the winged autogyro will make a comeback and be used for UAVs.

The aircraft I was looking at are the Martin 3 Light Sports Aircraft from Silent Wings Aviation and the ELA-08 Autogyro from ELA Aviation. These are both pusher propeller aircraft with tricycle undercarrage, two seats and simialr engines. The Martin 3 has a high mounted wing just behind the cocpit in front of the wing, where as the ELA-08 has the mast for the rotor in that position. As might be expected the fixed wing aircraft is faster but takes more space to take off.


Martin 3 Fixed Wing AircraftELA-08 Autogyro

Empty weight

280 kg

244 kg

Maximum Take-off Weight

450 kg 550 kg
Min Speed at Level Flight 65 km/h 30 km/h
Cruise Speed 180 km/h 150 km/h
Take Off Distance120 m50 m
Rate of Climb5 m/s8 m/s

Some early autogyros had wings and recentircraft such as the Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne have experimented with combining a pusher propeller and small wings on a helicopter. It might make sense to replace the wings of the Martin 3 with the rotor of the ELA-08, then reposition the landing gear on a small low mounted wing. The rotor would allow for a sort takeoff afterwhich the wing could take over some of the load allowing for a faster cruse speed. This might also be used for a UAV which could be launched from a ship or vehicle without the need for any runway.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Small Stealth UAV?

Proposed Small Stealth UAVAn alternative to piloted F-35 stealth aircraft for Australia might be small UAVs. These would cost around $2M each, allowing forty to be purchased for the cost of one F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter or F/A18F. The UAVs would use engines and weapons from the Australian military inventory and off the self electronics.

Scarab UAV Cross SectionThe US built Ryan Model 324 Scarab/BQM-145A UAV is used by the Egyptian Air Force for reconance. The Scarab is launched from a truck mounted rail with rocket assistance, and recovered by parachute. The Scarab is essentially a reusable unarmed cruse missile. In contrast the EADS Barracuda UAV is a larger conventional wheeled aircraft, allowing it to take off from a runway and with provision for weapons to be carried.

The turbojet engine of the Scarab is similar to that of the Harpoon cruse missile currently in service with the RAAF. The Teledyne J402 turbojet gives the missile a high subsonic speed and good fuel economy. The Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) planned for introduction to the RAAF has a similar engine. The AGM-158A has inertial navigation, GPS, an imaging infrared seeker and data link making it, in effect a disposable armed UAV. However, the cost of JASSM is high, as it can only be used once.

The small turbojet engine design of the Scarab could be combined with the wheels and weapons of the Barracuda to produce a small armed UAV which could operate from a conventional runway. Such an aircraft might be 4 m long, with a 2m wingspan, weigh 1,000 kg, with a speed of 800kph and range of 2,000 km. Typical armament would be one AGM-114 Hellfire air to ground missile or two FIM-92A Stinger air to air missiles (as used on Australian Tiger Helicopters).

The aircraft would be transportable in an NH90 Helicopter or a standard shipping container. To lower the cost, Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) computers could be used. The aircraft could be equipped with an airborne web server and controlled via a web browser. Automotive components, such as the Controller Area Network (CAN) could be used to further lower cost.

The aircraft would be a limited Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV), unlike systemns such as the Boeing Joint Unmanned Combat Air System X-45. The X-45 is much larger with a 10.31m wingspan comparable with a small piloted aircraft. However, at a much lower cost a small UAV would be useful for limited surveillance and attack. It would cause an adversary considerable difficulties, as they would not easily detected.

The small UAV would be useful for attacking small low value targets such as vehicles and small ships, including improvised fighting vehicles ("technicals") and vessels ("boghammars"). Due to its limited armament, the UAV would be less likely to cause concern to Australia's neighbors than full size stealth aircraft and long range cruse missiles.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering at The University of Adelaide, set the building of a miniature radio controlled F-35 VTOL model aircraft as a project in 2004. A conventional larger model would be much less difficult a task. The development of at least an unarmed UAV would be within the capabilities of Australian university researchers.

The US has had difficulties building such Medium Range UAVs, with one program being cancelled in 1993. However, the technology has advanced since then, with carbon fibre being used for UAVs, such as the Australian Aerosonde and COTS computers and low cost commercial avionics being available.

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Miniature Common Data Link for UAVs

How do you fit a standard digital surveillance system into what is essentially a model airplane?
Air Force Research Laboratory, Sensors Directorate (AFRL/PKSE) solicits research proposals to ... implement an airborne Common Data Link (CDL) terminal for use in Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SUAS). Due to the payload restrictions of these systems, using present CDL equipment is prohibitive, and has contributed to the proliferation of platform specific data link systems.

This effort shall examine the size, weight, and power requirements for SUAS platforms, and develop a CDL terminal capable of providing these platforms with CDL capability, with the intent of reducing the need for further unique systems. In addition, the Mini-CDL terminal shall be capable of communicating with existing ground systems which employ CDL terminals. ...

From: Miniature Common Data Link (Mini-CDL), Air Force Research Laboratory, Sensors Directorate8/18/2006

... the Mini-CDL should be capable of being fitted to, and carried by, UAVs in the 4-90kg (9-88lb) maximum take-off weight range ...

The Mini-CDL concept follows on from revised guidance released by the Pentagon last December, which mandated CDL standards be used for all airborne sensor imagery transmissions to enable improved system interoperability. Existing CDL architecture products are unable to be used on small UAV systems because of weight and space restrictions, giving rise to a significant number of platform-unique datalinks. In turn, this has affected frequency availability in battlefield environments.

SOURCE: --Peter La Franchi--
From: USAF AFRL launches mini common datalink project for small UAVs, Submitted by nestorb on Fri, 2006-08-25 13:35.

Common Data Link (CDL) The US DoD designated the Common Data Link (CDL) as its standard for use in imagery and signals intelligence in 1991. This link consists of a secure, jam resistant uplink operating at 200kbps and a down link that can operate at 10.71 Mbps, 137 Mbps or 234 Mbps (currently only the first of these downlink rates is secure).

There are five classes of link in the CDL family to achieve both line-of-sight (LOS) and, using relay, beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS):

From: Tactical Data Links - Common Data Link (CDL) Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL) High Integrity Data Link (HIDL), Stasys

Some Books:

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