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Autonomous Vehicles



have been undertaken to detennine, in a comprehensive way, the appropriate role for this technology in different application areas. This is happening in the United States, but also-perhaps on a more significant scale-outside of the United States. The academic groups addressing AUV technology include the University of Hawaii, Scripps, Stanford, the University of California at Santa Barbara, FAU, Texas A&M, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, WHOI, NPS, and a number of other univiersities where an individual researcher has become excited about the potential. In this work, two key issues have emerged as being paramount, energy systems and high-level control. Without sufficient energy, nothing can be accompliished, and with minimal or possible suspension of communications, the demand for on board decision making becomes critically important. Industry plays an active role in planning the utilization of AUV technology, with applications being considered that include areas of deep ocean exploration, polar oceans exploration (where the ice cover makes the use of standard technology impossible), and military applications or hazardous environments (such as areas of high-level chemical or radiation hazards). Furthermore, industry as well as government agencies may find AUVs are an attractive option for understanding and monitoring the health of the environment; the massive scale of this problem in temporal and spatial dimensions makes it a potentially important area for AUVs. Remote sensing from space-based satellites and from airplanes goes only so far in understanding the impact m of the ocean and its estuaries o our environment. As evidenced by the increasing attendance at the annual IEEE AUV Symposia and the biannual International Symposia on Unmanned Untethered Submersible Technology (ISUUST), there is a tremendous and growing international interest in AUV technology. Further, it is clear from the presented papers that the maturity of AUV technology is mostly in the hardware domain. It is now a nearly routine undertaking to design a hull structure to some set of operational parameters, construct the hull, populate it with sensors, effectors, computers, and batteries, derive a control algorithm, implement and install that algorithm on board, and effect a self-controlling vehicle. Currently the most constraining physical parameter is the amount of energy that can be carried on board. New energy systems are being

There are various kinds o autonomous vehicles (AVs) which f can operate with varying levels o autonomy. This paper is conf cerned with underwater, ground, and aerial vehicles operating in a fully autonomous (nonteleoperated) mode. Further, this paper deals with AVs as a special kind of device, rather than full-scale manned vehicles operating unmanned. The distinction is one in which the AV is likely to be designed f o r autonomous operation rather than being adaptedfor it as would be the case f o r manned vehicles. We provide a survey of the technological progress that has been made in AVs, the current research issues and approaches that are continuing that progress, and the applications which motivate this work. It should be noted that issues o control are pervasive f regardless of the kind of AV being considered, but that there are special considerations in the design and operation qf AVs depending on whether the focus is on vehicles underwater, on the ground, or in the air. We have separated the discussion into sections treating each of these categories.




The development of Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) systems began many years ago. Most of the original vehicles were extremely simple due to technological limitations, but their potential to serve both military and scientific purposes was apparent. For example, the Navy had requirements for drones, and in particular devices to meet search and survey needs, support mine countermeasures, and assist in understanding control and hydrodynamics questions. The need to understand the physics of the ocean enticed some of the ocean science community to begin work toward developing sophisticated vehicle systems for data gathering; the oil and gas industry had special interests in the use of AUV technology for application to the inspection of underwater structures and the inspection of pipelines. During the past two decades the pace of AUV development has increased substantially. A number of recent efforts
Manuscript received July 20, 1995; revised April 1, 1996. A. L. Meyrowitz is with the Navy Center for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence, Washington, DC 20375-5337 USA. D. R. Blidberg is with the Autonomous Undersea Systems Institute, Lee, NH 03824 USA. R. C. Michelson is with the Georgia Tech Research Institute and International Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems, Smyrna, GA 30080 USA. Publisher Item Identifier S 001 8-9219(96)05522-3.

0018-9219/96$05,00 0 1996 IEEE



Fig. 2. The R-One, equipped with one main thrustor, two tunnel vertical thrustors, and control electronics using compact DC brushless motors.

R-one Undemater Robot (Tamaki Ura) Cruising Type Long Time Diving Survey Launching Date Dimension (LxDiameter)

4,350 kg
3 6 knots

400 m
2 M a n Thrusters

PFP-9000 VM40 iMC68040 25 M H Z )



Vertical Thusters Actuators Energy Source


k . 280 DVC W

2 3

0 75 kW, 280 DVC 0 17 kW DC Motor


Fig. 1 The EAVE 111, weighing 1000 lbs (51 x 41 x 5 1 ) . . This AUV has a maximum speed of 2 kn, a depth rating of 500 ft, and a 6-h endurance.


Closed Cycle Diesel Engine Stytem 5 kW. DC280 V, 60 kWh 1,900 kg


Navieation Sensois

MS with Domler Sonar

Depth Gauge 2x Bottom Profiler Transponder Link Radio Link Radio Link
CTDO TV Camera

developed, however, which will shortly reduce the effect of this constraint [331, [431, [461. Some examples of experimental underwater vehicles are: EAVE 111, developed by the Marine Systems Engineering Laboratory (MSEL) of the Autonomous Underwater Systems Institute (AUSI). EAVE I11 is a third generation AUV characterized as an open space-frame testbed with excellent maneuverability, precise control, and an acoustic long baseline navigation system. Experiments include searches for underwater objects, navigation below an oil spill boom, acquiring video images of undersea objects, and acoustic communication between two EAVE 111s for the purpose of demonstrating cooperative behavior and control between two autonomous systems (Fig. 1). R-one, an autonomous underwater free swimming robot equipped with a Closed Cycle Diesel Engine for long term survey of midocean ridges. An Inertial Navigation System cooperates with a Doppler sonar system to support accurate navigation when the robot aims to swim in the vicinity of the seabed (Figs. 2 and 3 ) . Ocean Explorer, a small, low-cost, long-range AUV whose primary purpose is to perform coastal oceanographic survey missions. It has been developed at Florida Atlantic University in collaboration with the University of South Florida with funding from the Office of Naval Research.

Wet Payload Space

600 Liter

Over a dozen different sensor payloads are being designed. These include a variety of water quality, optic, and acoustic sensors. The goal is modularity and rapid reconfiguration. An interface specification facilitates collaboration with other institutions with interests in building payloads for deployment (Fig. 4). Less mature than hardware, however, is the state of AUV software development. Architectures for vehicle software abound in the literature [3], [24], [34], [47], but a significant factor in the acceptance of autonomous systems technology is the lack of real in-water experience to validate the potential utility of the alternatives. As discussed below, much work remains to be done in a number of enabling technologies, in particular understanding the design and implementation of software for control to support navigation, communication, and the AUVs response to changing conditions in its internal state and in its environment. 11. CONTROL The purpose of an AUVs control software is the same as that of any other autonomous vehicles: to allow the

Fig. 4. The Ocean Explorer, designed for modularity and rapid reconfiguration of multiple payloads.

vehicle to sense, move about in, and interact with its world, to survive, and to carry out useful missions for its users. The controller can be thought of as a resource manager for the AUV, managing its sensor and effector use, its power consumption, its location, and its time to carry out missions for its users. A basic function of an AUVs control software is managing its sensors. This includes determining what to look at as well as deciding which sensors to have active. It also involves detecting and, if possible, correcting sensor errors, possibly by using redundant sensors or taking faulty sensors off-line. Sensor fusion is also often necessary to provide virtual sensors. For example, bottom topology may be important to a mission, yet there is no bottom topology sensor; rather, this virtual sensor is created by fusing information from (possibly) downlooking sonar, location sensors, motion sensors, etc. Control also involves managing the AUVs effectors, including its thrusters or other means of movement. At a low level, the controller must ensure that effectors are operating properly and, if not, that steps are taken to correct or compensate for the problem. It may also need to create virtual effectors by coordinating the activities of several real effectors. Survival of the vehicle is an obvious responsibility of the vehicle controller. This includes not only internal homeostasis (e.g., ensuring a constant internal temperature or power consumption rate) and recovery from faults, but also taking actions to maintain the current status with respect to the world. For example, the AUV may need to maintain station near a mine or hydrothermal vent in the presence of currents; failure to do so could result not only in mission failure, but also loss of the vehicle. Finally, control software is responsible for providing a usable vehicle with which users can conduct missions. The level of intelligence aboard the vehicle can vary, depending on the vehicle and the users needs. For some missions-for example, simple missions or those taking place in relatively static, well-known environments-it may be sufficient to have a relatively dumb AUV; the user would specify the mission in detail, and the AUV would caryy out the

instructions to the letter. For other missions-for example, complicated missions, missions taking place in dynamic or uncertain environments, or missions that cannot be preplanned completely-it is advantageous to migrate some or all of the responsibility of planning from the user to the AUVs controller. A. Conventional versus Intelligent Control Until recently, when one talked about AUV control, one was talking about relatively low-level control (with respect to intelligence exhibited and knowledge needed). Lately, however, more attention has been focused on issues related to intelligent control [28], [42], in particular importing ideas and technologies from artificial intelligence (AI) and its subfields, such as planning [16], [38], [ 5 ] , reactive planning [17], rule-based systems [ll], aind neural network research Wl. A major thrust of this effort is to make AUVs more capable and less in need of detailed instructions from users. The more intelligence aboard the vehicle, the less difficult it should be to specify missions for it to carry out. If there is relatively little intelligence, then missions must be specified in great detail, possibly with a priori responses for contingencies that may arise during the execution of the mission plan. Detailed plans, however, are prone to at least two failings apart from tlhe time and effort needed to create them: first, the world is likely to change during their execution, thus invalidating assumptions later steps rely on [22]; and second, the user may lack the knowledge at planning time needed to compose the plan. With more intelligent control, the burden of composing the mission plan is largely shiftled from the AUVs user to the AUV itself. In addition, the AUV becomes more competent at detecting and recovering from unanticipated events, replanning or taking emergency actions as necessary. In other words, research on intelligent control is aimed at making autonomous underwater vehicles truly autonomous.
B. Low-Level and High-Level Control Low-level control is certainly necessary for AUVs, no matter how intelligent they may be. A number of tech1149

nologies have been or could be used for low-level control of AUVs. With respect to the task of sensing, sensor fusion, using the sensor information, and converting the sensed information into data that the mission planner or a user could use, four primary technologies receive attention. Rule-based systems [ll], often called expert systems or knowledge-based systems, are used to make sense out of or draw conclusions from data. Blackboard systems [26] are potentially useful for this, though they have so far seen little use in controlling AUVs, with Chappell [13] being a notable exception for a simulated AUV. Neural nets have great ability to do pattem recognition from a variable or noisy data stream; it is likely that they will see increasing use in making sense of sonar data, detecting trends in data, and detecting gradually-occurring events. Specialpurpose sensory algorithms, such as those developed for computer vision, may also be used for AUVs; the task is more difficult than for other kinds of autonomous systems, however, due to AUVs reliance on noisy, error-prone sensors (e.g., sonar). The tasks of the high-level mission management software (mission controller) are: to alleviate some of the burden of mission planning from the user; to provide on-the-spot planning ability for those situations in which the world is different than expected, or in which incomplete knowledge precludes a priori mission planning; and to provide the intelligence necessary to handle unanticipated events in a way appropriate for the mission.
C. Candidate Approaches for Intelligent Control An architecture for intelligent control can be thought of as a way of organizing discrete functionalities, or modules, for best results; it includes a description of what those functionalities are, what their inputs and outputs are, and how they communicate with one another. A common architecture is hierarchical, or layered, with functionality segregated by time domain and (possibly) whether it has to do with input or output control. This provides a clean separation based on temporal characteristics of functions to split up the software needed to perform intelligent control, and allows bottom-up implementation and testing [SI. Examples include the EAVE-I11 [SI and NASREM [4] architectures. Techniques for intelligent control occupy an orthogonal axis from that of the architecture used. Intelligent control techniques can reside in one or more of the modules or layers of an architecture, typically the higher layers. Rule-based systems have been proposed for almost all intelligent control tasks. Their benefits include easy modification, handling uncertain information well, their support of reactive behavior, and the existence of off-the-shelf tools and shells for building them. Among their disadvantages are the difficulty in obtaining effective rule sets (the knowledge acquisition bottleneck) and the fact that they do not easily accommodate plans of action [ 141. While traditional AI planners (e.g., STRIPS [16], SIPE [45]) have never seriously been proposed for AUVs, they have been used to control other semi-autonomous robots.

Reactive planners, however, are a more serious contender for controllers of AUVs. Work on reactive planning spans a spectrum from behavior-based work that involves no planning per se (PENGI [2]) up to approaches that combine planning ability with the ability to execute the plans and to react to unanticipated events (PRS [17] and Orca [41]), often with guaranteed real-time bounds on reactivity (PRS). Advantages of reactive planning include: ability to commit to future intentions and plans, integration of execution and plan generation, ability to react to changes, relative ease of knowledge acquisition, potential for explanation, potential to include resource management, and automatic context-sensitive reasoning (Orca). Disadvantages include: a general weakness in handling uncertainty, complexity of implementation (compared, say, to a rule-based system), difficulty of integrating learning (aside from case-based reasoning), and lack of hard real-time performance. Other techniques exist that could form part of a high-level controller for an AUV, though they may not be sufficient for standalone use. Case-based reasoning (CBR) [19], for example, reuses past cases of problem solving in order to save time and effort when a new, similar problem is encountered. Schema-based reasoning (SBR) [41], which is a generalization of CBR, forms the basis of the Orca program mentioned previously. Other techniques falling in this category include model-based reasoning, qualitative reasoning [20], and constraint-based reasoning [36]. It is very likely that the best approach for intelligent control IS to combine several of these techniques. For example, one could imagine adding case-based and constraintbased reasoning to a reactive planner; altematively, one could imagine extending the behavior-based approaches to include the ability to add high-level reasoning as one or more behaviors [40]. By combining techniques, it is likely that the strengths of one will compensate for the deficiencies of others. TECHNOLOGIES 111. OTHERENABLING

A. Long Endurance Propulsion/Energy The amount of energy that an AUV carries on board limits its operational utility. The system must be able to provide all of its own power and manage that power in such a manner as to ensure its ability to retum to the support ship or platform. AUVs will not reach their real potential until better energy systems are available. There is no clear answer at this time as to which energy system is best. Although many battery systems have been considered for use as the energy system for AUVs, only a few have actually been used on systems. Lead acid batteries, although relatively low in energy density, have been used in many of the existing systems. Silver zinc batteries have characteristics which make them a good choice. Their cost, however, except in military applications, has limited their acceptance. Lithium batteries have a very high energy density and are relatively available as commercial products. The potential safety hazards associated with these systems must be traded off with the increased energy density.

The ability to recharge nickel cadmium batteries and their increased energy density over lead acid batteries make them appealing in some applications. Cost and other factors, however, must temper the final choice. A number of new energy systems offer increased potential for many AUV systems. Many are still under development but will soon offer promising alternatives for energy systems with significant increases in performance. Aluminum oxygen systems are being developed and tested by several companies. These systems provide high energy densities although the cost of these systems does not compete well with other energy systems. It may well be that these systems, once developed, will provide a solution to many of the energy requirements for future AUV applications. Zinc oxygen semi-cells offer the potential for significant power densities at relatively low cost. More importantly, the system generates little hydrogen, thereby eliminating some of the safety hazards of many high energy systems. Recent developments suggest availability of these systems in the near future. A recent application of sea water batteries uses magnesium anodes and the dissolved oxygen in sea water to develop energy for an AUV. This system has the advantage of very high energy density and relatively low cost but has a limited output power capability. Movement of sea water over cylindrical arrays of magnesium anodes provides the oxygen necessary for operation. Fuel cells promise high energy densities appropriate for AUV systems. Their complexity and low reliability have, in the past, limited their consideration as AUV energy systems. Recent activities sponsored by DARPA and others suggest that solutions to these problems may be possible. Cost and reliability factors as well as ease of use and maintenance must still be addressed. Lead-acid secondary batteries have been the mainstay for various vehicle applications for decades, despite significant disadvantages with respect to energy density and specific energy. Advantages of cost, availability and known performance will probably support their continued use in underwater vehicles with limited range and endurance requirements where cost is a major consideration.

Table 1 Estimated Data Quantities and Data Rates for Various Sensors and Message Types
Data Type Vehicle Position and Status Commandnnstruction Sonar Image Compressed Sonar Image Video Image (compressed) Video 4 framesls 256 x 236 (compressed) Magnetic Sensor Target Description

QLiantitylData Rate
200 b 200 h
21 Mbls >50 kbls 250 kbls 10 khls

Processing low low high very high very high very high high moderate

50 bls 500 b

B. Communications
An autonomous vehicle, by definition, performs tasks under its own control. Its performance is limited, however, by the amount of information in its computer memory and the ability to reason about that information. The ability to communicate allows information to be transferred to and from the system. This in turn allows human intelligence to aid the AUV in performing its tasks. It also allows periodic retrieval of data and information from the system as it accomplishes its defined tasks. The communication link bandwidth required is a function of the amount of data, in the form of messages or data packets, that must be transferred and the amount of time allowed for the transfer. The types of sensors used on the vehicle directly affect the amount of data generated.

Video, a primary means of sensing, can produce millions of bits of data every second. Real time video requires a bandwidth of 2-5 MHz. Slow scan TV reduces the bandwidth requirements to ablout 3 kHz. Sonar sensors require communications bandwidths in the range between 10 kHz and 2 MHz. These bandwidths assume that data is being transferred directly from sensor to surface. This may not be the case. The primary interpreter of datal may be the AUV itself. If this is the case, data rates will be reduced. Other lower resolution sensor information imay be communicated, but in most cases is of sufficiently low bandwidth as to have little impact relative to the requirements of sonar and video information. There are many applications; where communications is not only necessary but operationally important. The elimination of the tether makes utilization of data telemetry a necessity. For many years, researchers have relied on limited data rates to accomplish communications with the autonomous underwater system. Recently low data rate acoustic telemetry systems have become commercially available. These systems allow relatively low data rates (600-1200 BPS) to be transmitted over ranges of a very few kilometers. Consideration of Table I reinforces the need for much higher data rates. New developments in the last few years have increased the data rates possible to 20000 or more bits per second over ranges of a few kilometers. The physics of the underwater environment seriously limits the maximum range of transmission as well as the upper limits of data rate. Other communication techniques are being considered. Testing has shown the possibility of transmitting data through the ocean using laser technology. An experiment undertaken by DARPA recently verified the possibility of transmitting 40 MBPS over ranges of 300 ft in relatively clear water. Follow-on experiments increased the data rate to 100 MBPS over a range of 250 ft. New concepts are being considered that would take advantage of network technology to allow communication from an AUV to moored receiving nodes, similar to cellular phone technology only implemented in the underwater environment. This technology shows great promise for large area tasks where resources all0 w the establishment of fixed nodes spaced a few kms apart. An evolving technology that promises great potential is seen in the establishment of llow earth orbiting satellites.

With world-wide access to cellular telephone technology it is possible to consider an AUV system surfacing for short periods of time and calling home to off load data and obtain new instructions. This scenario makes long range transits across the oceans a possibility.

for a number of groups and some in-water results have been realized.

D. Sensors and Signal Processing

A W System Sensors are considered to be integral components of the AUV system, regardless of other mission specific sensors which might be on board. Important categories are noted below. I ) Obstacle Avoidance: Most AUV missions require the vehicle to avoid objects in the water column. This may not be very significant in blue water operations but is critical when operating in coastal waters. There are many sonar systems on the market which can be adapted to avoidance, or which can serve the dual purpose of sonar imaging and avoidance. The problem is principally one of algorithm development. This topic is much discussed in the open literature and is felt to be reasonably well in hand. 2) Reference Sensors: This category of AUV sensors is essential to A W control. The technology is in common use and includes sensors to measure vehicle depth (pressure and sonar), altitude above the bottom (sonar), heading (compass, AHRS), pitch and roll, thruster r/mins, and control surface angles. 3 ) Self-Diagnostic Sensors: AUVs by their very nature must maintain their own system health and safety. This requires having and monitoring leak detectors in pressure housings, energy consumption and rates of consumption, intemal temperatures, and water temperature (for acoustic systems), etc. The real problem is to have software and control strategies that are able to impact the system response to recognized problems. There is significant research interest in the development of software able to recognize and deal with expected and unexpected failures to system and subsystem components. 4 ) Mission Sensors: These sensors are unique to particular types of missions. Some common types are for video imaging, laser imaging, sonar systems, and magnetometry. In addition, ocean scientists are becoming increasingly interested in and aware of the potential for utilizing AUV to acquire vast quantities of needed scientific data inexpensively. There is much effort now underway to address the problems of integration and long term calibration of scientific sensors on AUVs. In general, the development of hardware to acquire data has surpassed the development of the software required to autonomously understand the information inherent in the acquired data. The following are some examples of mission sensor systems. 5 ) Video Imaging: Underwater video cameras have been used on manned submersibles and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) for a long time. The principle drawback to integrating these systems on AUVs is that there is no human on board to interpret the images in real time. Alternatively, video can be telemetered to a remote operator for analysis. Bandwidth compression research is receiving increased interest with the availability of high data rate acoustic transmission. This is largely due to creative use

C. Geodetic and Relative Navigation There are currently several technologies either in use or proposed for AUV navigation. Acoustic navigation systems are the most widely used. These are generally very reliable methods, with good accuracy (inches to meters), but are range limited by acoustic propagation. For local area missions of hundreds of meters to a few kilometers, where positioning accuracy is important, acoustic systems are well suited to the task. The only drawback is that transponders must be placed in the area and, for the long baseline case, must be calibrated. If a mission is to encompass long distances, transponder navigation is not usually a consideration. Mission constraints dictate required system accuracy. Dead reckoning systems can be used with velocity updates from either a Doppler sonar or correlation velocity sonar. Over time, however, these systems will accumulate significant errors. Inertial systems have made great progress over the past ten years. Laser gyro systems currently under development offer the potential for on board navigation capability of reasonable accuracy for many missions. They are also small enough to fit into most AUVs. When integrated with velocity updates (such as Doppler or correlation velocity sonar) their accuracy is improved, and if periodic position updates are used (such as from GPS) they allow A W s to travel over large ocean areas. The capabilities of fiber optic gyros (FOG) continue to increase. Several companies now manufacture units for application in automobiles (navigation) and airplanes [attitude-heading reference systems (AHRS)]. These offer the potential for inexpensive, small, low power, lightweight, extremely rugged, and virtually maintenance-free navigation systems. Like the laser gyro systems, updates of velocity and position make ideal systems for large area operations. An important point is that most of these navigation systems are really integrated systems which require other on board sensors to improve their performance. It is expected that development of these inertial systems will greatly benefit the future of AUV practicality by providing it freedom to range long distances while knowing exactly where it is. Although there has been little accomplished relative to bottom referenced navigation, there have been some efforts focused on better understanding and utilizing unique environmental characteristics as navigation information [ 11. The bottom of the ocean or the underside of the ice cover in polar regions provide reference marks for local navigation. Also, the use of magnetic variations have been considered as reference information for navigation systems. There is currently no operational system that utilizes this information for primary navigation data. It is an active research focus

of digital signal processing (DSP) techniques to increase effective data rates to 20000 b/s or greater. Further development in these areas will allow transmission of good quality images from AUVs in the future. 6) Laser Imaging: This field is rapidly developing with much research and development underway. Although the distances over which lasers can be used in the water column is not great (tens of meters), their broad bandwidth (wavelength in nanometer range) allows for extremely high range resolution. Scanning systems are being developed which show promise of creating high definition 3-dimensional images of underwater objects. Image processing development is critical to this technology. 7) SonarImaging: Perhaps the largest area of research activity in sensor development is in the area of sonar imaging. Sonar systems can see long ranges in the oceans opaque environment. However, since the signals are of IOW frequency and the transmission medium complex, the image data is of low resolution and noisy. Much processing must be done to derive usable images from the data. Acoustic images have been processed and acoustically transmitted to the surface with varying degrees of success.

E. Vehicle Design Vehicle designs differ but currently fall into two categories: hydrodynamically efficient (submarine shaped) and open space-frame (ROV-like). Many factors enter into the choice of platform design from cost and availability to compressibility of individual components; in general one must choose between an alternative that is smaller and less expensive and one that is larger with increased endurance. New ideas are currently being pursued in addressing the three major issues of materials, buoyancy, and propulsion systems. I ) Materials: The weight of the vehicle must be as small as possible. To overcome this problem, developments have focused on high strength to weight materials. The use of plastic or glass-based materials for pressure hulls is an active area of development. When long endurance systems are considered, the corrosion and fouling of the platform components becomes a far more serious issue. Materials that resist such problems are required. When depth of operation to 6000 m is contemplated, the compressibility of the platform components can seriously affect the buoyancy of the overall system. Matching the compressibility of various materials such that the combined buoyancy remains nearly constant is important. 2) Buoyancy: The ability to control buoyancy of a submersible, while important to many submersible vehicles, is particularly important for AUVs that operate on a limited energy supply over extended periods of time or over extreme varying depth regimes within a single mission. The buoyancy and ballast system, for instance, must provide stability, and also emergency surfacing (provide sufficient positive buoyancy to bring the vehicle to the surface during emergencies). The basic problem is that an AUV which is neutrally buoyant at the surface will likely not be neutrally buoyant at

various operating depths. The specific weight of sea water, even at the surface, can vary by approximately 1%. At a depth of 1000 m, the variation from standard sea water is about 0.5%. AUVs must be capable of operating over the entire envelope. Since in many missions the AUV must vary its depth a significant number of times, energy use efficiency is an important consideration. Utilizing materials with unit compressibilities near or equal to that of sea water would provide for much greater energ;y use efficiency related to submersible depth excursions. This would greatly lessen the amount of ballast or displacement change needed per depth change increment. Although additional buoyancy changes can be overcome with active (compensation systems, the power consumption and reliability of those systems can become a significant factor in a long endurance mission. One possibility is to utilize am electrochemical process to implement a variable buoyancy system; requiring no moving parts, it would be extremely energy efficient. 3) Propulsion: The types of propulsors that have been used on submersible vehicles, or that can be adapted for submersible use, include the following: open propellers, ducted or shrouded propellers, contrarotating propellers, water jets, oscillating foils, controllable pitch propellers, and others. In addition, some of these can be combined, such as two contrarotating propellers mounted in tandem on concentric shafts and enclosed by a shroud. Hybrid propulsor systems can also be considered where two or more of the various configurations are installed separately on the same vehicle. With the exception of the oscillating foils all of the propulsor concepts use propellers in some form. Although research efforts are continuing on the oscillating foil it has not yet been developed 10 the point where it can compete with propellers. Factors which impact specific design choices are efficiency, reliability, maneuverability, complexity of fabrication and installation, and torque compensation requirements. Current AUVs, for the most part, rely on fairly standard technology to provide thrust and to control motion. Pressure compensated DC brushless motors turn a propeller to provide thrust and actuators move control surfaces at angles to the flow of water past the hull. These solutions are effective and have been used for years in manned submarines. There are problems, however, in terms of efficiency and reliability. The reliability issue becomes significant when long endurance systems are considered. The total energy required is always a problem in an autonomous system. Alternative concepts for propiulsion and control are being considered. Larger diameter propellers or more efficient shapes are being investigated. Efforts to understand how fish and other creatures of the sea are able to move so efficiently both at low speeds and at high speeds are underway. It may well be possible to implement undulatory propulsion systems in future AUV systems. Materials that change shape when heated or energize in other ways might well replace the complex mechanical connections that now move control surfaces to introduce turning moments.

IV. PART11: AUTONOMOUS GROUND VEHICLES There are special challenges to be met in building mobile vehicles capable of navigating through unknown, potentially hazardous terrain. This has been highly nontrivial even under the assumption of control with a human-in-theloop. Teleoperated vehicles, i.e., under fiber optic tether, have been demonstrated to transit over unmapped natural terrain, but this accomplishment has required extensive research addressing such issues as creating a sense of telepresence through a human-machine interface, high-speed mobility, long-range nonline-of-sight operation, ruggedness, and reliability [7]. If we wish to have a vehicle performing autonomously, then a host of new research issues must be addressed toward the goal of allowing perceptual and problem-solving capabilities to reside entirely within the machine. That the autonomous ground vehicle (AGV) must in fact be a highly competent problem solver derives from our desire to have it operate in natural and remote environments. We may not be able to provide it with accurate models of terrain. If maps are available, they may lack local detail, and in any case will not represent the changes that can occur in dynamic situations where transient obstacles (such as other mobile vehicles and humans) will be encountered, or where activities of the autonomous ground vehicle itself might alter its environment during accomplishment of tasks. On the basis of information obtained from its own sensors, the autonomous ground vehicle must be capable of building its own maps to represent the environment and flexibly support its own reasoning for navigational planning and, if necessary, replanning. Moreover, as the world around the vehicle can change quickly, we want the software which implements control to be computationally efficient and supportive of real-time response to events. I. PROGRESS TOWARD AUTONOMY The wheeled robot SHAKEY [23], [27] is often cited as an early demonstration of automating perception and path planning. Through a combination of on board computers and a radio link to larger computers elsewhere, SHAKEY utilized a scanning camera to obtain a wide field of view, and attempted to keep track of its wheel rotation to support the calculation of its position in its internal map. The experiments with SHAKEY served to highlight the need for subsequent research in more powerful computer vision, in integrating information from multiple sensors (such as visual and mechanical), and in automated planning. SHAKEY also provided an early example of hierarchical control, which has continued to be an important architectural principle in the design of robotic software. By the early 1980s, the Stanford Cart and the CMU Rover had become prominent for representing the state-ofthe-art in robotic mobility. The Stanford Cart was basically a camera platform on wheels; images broadcast from its on board TV system served to provide knowledge of its surroundings as it moved through cluttered spaces. That movement was slow (1 m every 10-15 min) and not continuous. The Cart would stop after each meter to take

and review new pictures, and to plan a new path before moving on. In contrast, the CMU Rover was a more capable device designed to support a broader range of experiments in perception and control. Rapid processing of sensed data was facilitated by a dozen on board processors and by connection to a large remote computer; an omnidirectional steering system provided maximum mechanical flexibility. The cylindrical Rover, 1 m tall and a half-meter in diameter, was designed to achieve motion at 10 times the speed of the Stanford Cart. Hierarchical control was also utilized, with three processing levels focused on planning, then plan execution, and finally direction of actuators and sensors. Even lacking planning capabilities, a robot fitted with a variety of sensors and the ability to wander about can effectively serve as a sentry. This has been shown in the Robart-I and Robart-I1 mobile robots built at the Naval Postgraduate School and at the University of Pennsylvania Moore School of Engineering [15]. In particular, RobartI could alter the direction of its motion if an obstacle was sensed and relied on a combination of ultrasonic waves (to measure forward range), near-infrared proximity detectors, tactile feelers and bumper switches. Robart-11, in keeping with the sentry mission, employed a microwave motion detector, a smoke detector, infrared sensors, an ambient temperature sensor, and physical contact sensors. Its sentry duties were supported by an ability to move at a fixed sensed distance from nearby walls, and to recognize intersections by the disappearance of those walls.

The milestone projects cited above served to highlight the deeper, long-term issues that still remain the subject of intensive research, key areas being robotic control, sensing, path planning, and mechanical mobility. Here we identify approaches to each that are the subject of intense laboratory study in light of their potential to advance the current technology: subsumption architecture for control, evidence grids for mapping and multisensor integration, machine vision utilizing range sensing for both object recognition and obstacle localization, and legged locomotion for mobility.
A. Subsumption Control

Subsumption architectures are based on the idea that certain simple behaviors (such as moving forward, avoiding collisions, seeking the brightest spot, etc.) operating in parallel in a nearly independent way can result in an autonomous vehicle exhibiting quite sophisticated functional capabilities in complex environments. The simple behaviors are nearly independent in that one behavior may temporarily inhibit or invoke another based on sensory information. A key point is that subsumption architecture does not presume central control and so requires no represented model of the vehicle or the world in which the vehicle exists. Long-range planning is thus not supported, but quick reactive response to sensed changes in the world is supported by the resident behaviors. Mobility and reacPROCEEDINGS OF THE IEEE, VOL. 84, NO. 8, AUGUST 1996

tive response as exhibited by insects have been duplicated using subsumption control in robotic insects built at MIT [lo]. Toward the goal of controlling more complex devices, the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has demonstrated at least in simulation the ability of subsumption to control aircraft take-offs and landings on carriers, and to control the operation of autonomous vehicles on carrier decks. However, it may well be that scaling up robotic control for accomplishing a broader range of mobility as well as manipulation tasks will require some component of central control, a world model, and long-range planning. To the extent that certain aspects of the AGVs environment and problem domain can be expected with high probability to be stable, automated planning on that basis would be reasonable. Much work remains to be done in understanding the design and operation of hybrid systems that would make the best possible use of both reactive behavior and high-level planning.

Fig. 5. A cluttered range image is searched for the large torus by random placement of tripod operators. In this case it was found in eight placements. The total processing time was approximately 30 ms.

B. Mapping and Multisensor Integration There are, in fact, situations where the environment is sufficiently stable to warrant the vehicles building a map based on information from its sensors. Among other capabilities, such a map can support projective planning of paths around obstacles. The concept of a rectangular evidence grid [211 has emerged as a computationally effective way to represent the environment of the vehicle as information accumulates from the use of one or more sensors. As originally suggested, the evidence grid can be made to store either a zero or a one in any cell, based on sensor evidence of there being a physical object (obstacle) in some portion of that space. A more advanced concept-still the subject of experiments-considers the use of probabilities where a number between zero and one is stored in each cell to reflect the probability of its being occupied. This assignment of probabilities can take into account the credibility of information provided by the particular mix of sensors available, and so supports a more intelligent assessment of available paths and possible hazards.
C. Machine Vision

When the world surrounding the AGV is dynamic and unpredictable, the ability to react quickly places great demands on the visual sense. Visual data, properly interpreted, can be the basis for control decisions, whether subsumptive or otherwise. In recent years, experiments with laser range finders have shown the usefulness of range data for not only detecting but also identifying obstacles and other objects in the vicinity of a vehicle. Aside from being immune to certain problems associated with the use of conventional intensity images (such as ambient light deficiency or shadowing), object identification can be made very quickly on the basis of range data. This is illustrated, for example, by recent demonstrations of tripod operators to accomplish model-based object recognition [30]. The tripod operator probes the range

data mapping of an object to locate three points on the surface; these constitute vertices of a reference triangle with respect to which additional surface probes can be made. For instance, three additional triangles hinged to the sides of the reference triangle can be made to just touch the surface of the object in question. The resulting hinge angles are quickly computed to yield features which are highly informative about the shalpe of the object in the small area where the tripod was applied. Such features, obtained from a number of tripod operaior probes over the surface, are then the basis for accessing stored models of candidate objects to determine which one is actually being sensed. It is crucial that all of the coimputations associated with the use of tripod operators can be accomplished in realtime to support vehicle navigation; results to date are quite promising in this regard, as tripod operators can be applied and interpreted in just milliseconds (Fig. 5). As in the case of subsumption, where it is reasonable to expect that advanced systems will be hybrid with elements of central control, so it is that range-based vision will likely be integrated with intensity-based image processing for flexibility and robustness. We can point to the ability of range-based vision to distinguish cylinders from other shapes, but also to its inability ito read their labels; this example makes clear the importance of hybrid vision systems supporting more complex behaviors.

D.Legged Locomotion
Legged machines are desired when mobility is needed in difficult terrain. Moreover, they offer advantages in flexibility to quickly change direction, and in isolating a carried platform (of instruments or weapons, for instance) from the unpredictable dynamics associated with motion. To learn from the biological example, quantitative studies of animal gaits have been reported; in particular, the study of walking mechanisms in insects has led to principles of control and dynamic balancing that contribute to cur1155

Fig. 6. A fully autonomous aerial robot is readied for flight during the International Aerial Robotics Competition.

rent designs of walking machines. However, there is still just a primitive understanding of the control mechanisms employed by high-level animals in walking and running. Milestones in the arena of legged machines include the OSU Hexapod [29] that had insect-like legs but sought to employ intelligent control in adapting to difficult terrain during locomotion; the ODEX, a six-legged machine built by Odetics, Inc. [35] with capabilities for climbing; and the six-legged Adaptive Suspension Vehicle (ASV) at Ohio State University that has over 100 sensed inertial and optical control variables and is mechanically autonomous in navigating rough terrain. The more recent work of Raibert [3 11, [32] has pioneered in one-legged, two-legged, and four-legged machines that can hop and run. Toward the goal of having walking machines that can cope with the rough terrain of natural environments, there has been some development of robot-terrain interaction; the key idea is that the machine should be capable of soil analysis to optimize step patterns and foot hold performance. The latter has been demonstrated in a prototype walking machine [12]. A review of the accomplishments to date in Raiberts work as well as the previous work cited suggests that dramatic advances in legged machines must wait for solutions to the deeper remaining problems in terrain sensing (to recognize obstacles and good footholds); integration of perception and control mechanisms incorporating spatial reasoning and planning; and mechanical design and integration (for efficiency and reliability) [23]. Some results have been obtained in mathematically modeling path planning problems for legged machines, suggesting that computaI156

tionally efficient algorithms can be found for solving such problems [9].

111. PART111: AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES AIR To date, there are few fully autonomous unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) in existence, much less ones slated for service. One notable exception is the cruise missile which can navigate between way points by using environmental cues with augmentation from other sources such as the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system. Cruise missiles exhibit moderate intelligence, however a greater degree of machine intelligence can be envisioned in which the air vehicle interacts with its environment to modify its tactics for achieving a goal. In Japan, Sugeno has demonstrated limited use of fuzzy logic in teleoperated UAVs [37]. On a larger scale, but in simulation only, Gilmore has demonstrated self actuating behaviors and has postulated methods for interaction among several fully autonomous UAVs operating in concert [lSI. The Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems (AUVS) has sponsored a unique competition for universities to demonstrate a fully autonomous flying robot that is capable of navigating in a semistructured environment, maintaining stability, searching for objects on the ground, and manipulating them once found. Conceived and originated in 1990 by the author, this competition has grown in size and stature annually, attracting student teams from Europe, Canada, Asia, and the United States. Having coined the term aerial robotics to describe the event, the author has attempted to bring academia, industry, and

government together toward the common goal of creating on a small scale, some of the worlds most advanced and robust autonomous air vehicles as part of the International Aerial Robotics Competition. During the first year of the competition, most of the teams were challenged with the problem of stable autonomous flight. By the spring of 1993, teams had progressed to the point where autonomous take-off, navigation-driven flight, hover, and landing was possible. In addition, the ability to locate and manipulate (capture) specific objects on the ground was demonstrated. The key to the competition is autonomy, and the goal is to demonstrate a higher level of reasoning in the autonomous behavior of a UAV than is currently being pursued by the governments of the world. For this reason, the requirements of the competition are rigorous and nontrivial (Fig. 6).

Law enforcement (suspect surveillance, tear gas deployment) Transportation (traffic congestion monitoring) Air quality sampling in nonattainment areas or near suspected violators Global resource monitoring (ozone depletion, oceanic temperatures) Civilian Low altitude satellite for r,adio and TV transmission Resource inspection (forestry, crop mapping) Utility inspection (power lines, oil pipe lines) Overnight package delivery. V. REQUIREMENTS Autonomous vehicles must be able to react to their environment in an intelligent manner. The intelligence can be innate to the vehicle itself, or it can be remote--communicated via a free-space link or a tether. In either case, the intelligence belongs to the vehicle itself and is not immediately derivable from some operator. This distinguishes an aerial robot from most common UAVs presently in use. During the Gulf War, UAVs played a major tactical and reconnaissance role. The first weapons deployed against Iraq were cruise missiles. As autonomous UAVs, these lethal Tomahawk cruise missiles leave much to be desired in terms of reactive innate intelligence. Later during the liberation of Kuwait, teleoperated UAVs were deployed around the clock for reconnaissance or indirect fire adjustment. Though these later UAVs had autonomous modes which allowed them to do simple tasks such as orbiting a point without operator assistance, they could hardly be called autonomous IJAVs. A. Research Issues The area of primary interlest when considering autonomous UAVs is that of flight control. Autonomous UAVs must fly themselves, and unlike AGVs and AUVs, they do not have the luxury of pausing to gain situational awareness. The result of any hesitation in flight can be catastrophic and as a rule, ito simply maintain stable autonomous flight, the contrail system must update its control laws at a minimum 30 Hz rate to maneuver effectively. The following discussion is couched in terms of a military application because at present, more analogies can be drawn to military systems; however the same elements apply equally to civilian applications. I ) Flight Control Systems: Various important avionics functions must be performed by an autonomous UAV in order to accomplish its mission successfully. These major functions can be categorized as follows: navigation; stability and control; remote sensing; limited communications (one way); self-healing (fault tolerance); self-destruct.

IV. POTENTIAL APPLICATIONS When one or more of the teams in the International Aerial Robotics Competition is successful in completing the prescribed mission, we will witness the dawning of a new period in the development and use of autonomous UAVs. Traditionally province of the military, UAVs are expected to explode into the commercial sector by the year 2000. According to the Electronic Industries Association (EIA), the non-DoD uses (and sales) of UAVs will outpace that of the military by the turn of the century. The major stumbling block is currently that posed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other similar entities regarding the requirements for UAV use in controlled air space. The use of autonomous UAVs in controlled air space is an even thornier issue, the problem being not one of restrictive regulations, but the lack of any regulation at all! Various groups including the AUVS are actively working with the FAA to define regulations for the use of UAVs. Supposing that this hurdle will soon be surmounted, consider some of the uses for a fully autonomous UAV. Usually UAVs find their place in dull, dirty, or dangerous (Dj) applications, but autonomous UAVs are particularly attractive for covert missions which could be given away by up-linked or down-linked transmissions, long duration missions in which a single teleoperator would soon fatigue, and missions in which split second decisions must be made based on the situational awareness of the UAV (Fig. 7). Some of the applications include: Military Loitering aerial mines (lethal UAVs) Reconnaissance Search and rescue Search and destroy (lethal UAVs) Battle-damage assessment Precise local area meteorology Engagement and reengagement of ill-defined targets (lethal UAVs) Radio relay Government

Fig. 7. Current UAV technology ranges from remotely controlled vehicles to those having semi-autonomous modes of operation such as the Sikorsky Cypher

Of these, navigation, and stability/control are essential to the UAV flight control system. Implicit to these two functions are actuators and control laws. 2) Essential Elements of the Flight Control System: Normally, the UAV must be capable of receiving mission down-loads just prior to launch which include present position, mission specifications (e.g., how many threats to expect in the engagement area and the priority of targets to be encountered) and the coordinates of the engagement area. The flight computer and avionics sensors will have to perform with sufficient accuracy to enable the UAV to arrive at the right time and point in space to most effectively find or engage the threat. Navigation will have to be performed under highly maneuverable subsonic or even supersonic conditions. The innate intelligence of an autonomous UAV must be quite robust in order to allow it to continue the mission even if certain on board systems have failed. Component reliability is the first level assurance that the mission will be completed successfully, but robustness will ensue from redundancy and self-healing, reallocatable resources. Only by building this extra level of intelligence into the onboard flight computers can a mission be expected to be completed without human intervention. Upon malfunction or damage, self-healing subsystem architectures will be able to intelligently reallocate their priority functions to either redundant or alternate resources. Reallocation of critical tasks (such as flight control) to redundant resources (backup processors) will allow the mission to continue without degradation. On the other hand, if redundant resources are unavailable, critical tasks may supplant less critical ones in order to take advantage of existing, but limited operational resources (e.g., maintenance of flight control at the expense of built-in-test (BIT) functions). This will lead to gracefully
1 I58

degrading performance, but may result in a successful m i s sion. Autonomous UAV processor architectures, navigation systems, and sensordactuators should all be designed to operate with this level of intelligent performance.
B. Core Avionics Group CPU Processing Requirements

The minimum throughput requirement for present U S . core avionics group (CAG) CPUs is 5 MIPS. This is equivalent to a 68020 processor running on a Sun 3/60 workstation, and is well within the current state of the art. By way of comparison, the Inmos IMS T9000 32-b transputer boasts a peak performance of 200 MIPS and 25 MFLOPS [39]. This present requirement is adequate to provide the following simultaneous processing functions: flight stabilization; navigation and guidance; engine control; payload control; data linMZFF; mission management; crisis management (self-healinglresource reallocation); 50% spare throughput. Photonic processors of the 21st century will likewise handle the above functions, however it is expected that certain tasks such as mission management and perhaps payload control will grow to become quite complex as sensor capabilities improve in terms of bandwidth (more data to digest), size (more sensors incorporated per payload package), and intelligence (knowledge-based systems allowing more robust autonomy in mission execution). 1) Inertial Measurement Unit Requirements and Pegormance: The inertial measurement unit (IMU) should normally include inertial sensors and electronic processing

Table 2 Current and Projected Performance

Current Performance Cost (mega-instructions/s MIPS) (mega-operations/s MOPS) ThroughpudUnit Volume Failure rate/million h/MOP Concept to manufacture time Installed weight (complete package) Weight (typical module) Power density (Watts/ Exomples o j Current Systems State of the Art $1000 to $3000/1MIPS $200 to $750/1MOPS 0.2 MIPS/ 2.6 MOPS/ 0.3 FPMMOP 3-5 years 36 lb/1120 cain @ 115 W 1.5 to 2.0 lb for 50 @ 30 W 0.10 W/ 2015 $300/1MIPS $75/1MOPS 2.0-8.0 MIPS/ 8 0-20 MOPS/ 0.1 FPM/MOP 1-3 years 4.0 1b/325 @ 60 W 1.5 to 2.0 Ib for 50 C 100 W 3 0.20 W/

PAVE PILLAR, PAVEPACE, MACE, Modular Core Avionics Group (MIAG) Enuhling Technologies .Optical networking .Decrease feature size from current 12.25 p m VLSl VHSIC and achieve wafer-scale integration .Progress away from use of MIL STD 1553B bus architecture to 1773 optical buses and beyond .Improved design tools that are integrated 064-b RISK and massively parallel processors .Improved packaging and pin-out (optical interfaces) .Fault tolerant reconfigurable architectures .Real-time adaptive optical networks and processors

to provide three orthogonal axes of angular rate, sensors which output angular increments, and three orthogonal accelerometer axes from which to calculate inertial velocity increments. The IMU can work in conjunction with an external navigation system such as a GPS receiver. By the year 2015, however, IMU functions may be able to provide navigation information which rivals that of current GPS performance. In fact, cryogenic IMUs may be able to provide not only short term stability information to the UAV stability augmentation system, but may also provide long term navigation input to the CAG. 2) Air DatdMagnetometer Aided Mode (Dead Reckoning): In addition to external navigation aids such as GPS, magnetometer and air data information coupled with the barometric altitude and true airspeed, provide: altitude, velocity, and heading input to the CAG CPU. These functions aid in stability augmentation as well as navigation.

classical control law theory or modem control law theory can be applied to the design of the stability augmentation system. Emerging techniques such as nonlinear control theory may also prove fruitful in the future. Knowledgebased systems which assist in the design of these control laws might be available by 2015, but even these will require good characterizations of air velhicle parameters in order to provide meaningful solutions. Therefore, advances in vehicle parameter characterization through analysis, simulation, and empirical test may prove to be the more significant advance. 3 ) Performance o the Autonomous Intelligence Engine: f Table 2 contrasts the current performance and an estimate of the projected performance for processing engines which will allow full autonomy in UAVs.


Many enabling technologies have application to the broad array of DoD and commercial UAV missions that one could envision. Some are implicit to all missions while others are more specific. For exampk, ultra-light high strength structures (composites), microsensors and gnat robotics, high temperature materials (ceriimics), and of course room temperature superconductivity ;are all important technologies supporting the development of future UAVs. However, due to priorities based on fundlamental development risk, centrality, and criticality of the supporting technology to the majority of UAV missions, a list of five primary, and sometimes interrelated enabling tecl~nologiesis recommended for near term investment. The five recommended areas for investment are (in order of ubiquity and retum on investment): photonics; acoustic charge transport (ACT); wafer-scale integration of dissimilar technologies; full spectrum ultra-resolution sensors; smart skins.

C. CAG Weight, Volume, and Cooling

The current requirements for present U.S. systems CAG assemblies state that the weight shall not exceed 20 lbs, and the size shall not exceed 9-in wide by 7-in high, with a total volume not to exceed 630 in3. Cooling shall be by passive means only (ambient air vehicle mounting structure temperature is assumed to be 4OoC [25]. Expected advances in technology such as photonics and wafer-union integration should allow a more capable CAG to be produced with a weight of under 7 lbs and a volume of 125 in3, while maintaining cooling by passive means. I ) Actuators: Future actuators will benefit from improved rare-earth magnet technology to make small stronger electric drives; however, the greatest improvement will accrue from the practical development of room-temperature superconductors should they become available during the next 25 years. 2) Control Laws: Integral to any flight control system implementation is the development of control laws. Either

These five areas agree with recommendations made by the U.S. Air Force Forecast I1 technology study of the mid 1980s and have been updated to reflect advances in these technologies during the 1993194 AAS-36 NATO AGARD study concerning the use of UAVs in maritime missions. The following subsections describe these enabling technologies, demonstrate how they will be generally useful to a variety of UAV payloads, indicate the current state of the art, and identify other enabling technologies which will in turn facilitate the development of these five primary areas.

conventional techniques in reduced scanning requirements, higher gain, better target resolution, and substantially higher jamming resistance.

B. Acoustic Charge Transport (ACT)

A. Photonics Integrated optical systems and devices will essentially replace electrons with photons in a large variety of military applications. The next 25 years will see the emergence of photonic systems that incorporate optical sensors, communications links, information processing, and weapons (directed energy). An entire autonomous UAV system could operate principally in the domain of photons having minimal interaction with electronic devices. The superiority of a photonic (light wave) communication system over an electronic system can be measured by information-carrying capacity (four orders of magnitude greater for optical systems); energy loss in signal transmission (two orders of magnitude lower); and error rate (one order of magnitude Zower). The development of semiconductor lasers specifically designed for fiber optic systems promises even greater improvement in information-carrying capacity. Photonic (optical) computing offers significant improvements in processing speed compared to electronic computing. This speed increase is due to the natural parallel architecture and large increases in throughput due to the high switching speeds of optical devices. Optical computer components need no physical connection: photons (light beams) replace the wiring. New distributed-processing architectures will also be possible by exploiting the no-wire advantage as well as continued improvement of fiber optics and lasers. Photonic sensors, especially when used with active illuminators or adaptive optics, can provide high-resolution target recognition information that will be difficult to detect or jam. Numerous system concepts could provide enhanced information about potential targets based on a fusion of data from multiple sources (both active and passive). For example, a future tactical laser radar system composed of binary optical elements and a coherently phased array of laser diodes could provide simultaneous range, rangeDoppler, passive infrared (IR) imagery, and visible imagery. Multispectral sensor data, coupled with an optical signal processor, could provide recognition of both stationary and fast-moving targets. The integration of the above subsystems offers the possibility of future autonomous UAV payloads based on photonic systems that sense, communicate, procedcompute, and display and destroy targets-all without using electrons. The technology offers potential advantages over

Key to the future of autonomous UAVs will be the ability to contain significant on board intelligence capable of real-time performance. By the year 2015, UAVs will be able to perform more tasks autonomously and will be able to assimilate more data based on higher resolution sensors, but in order to avoid high bandwidth data links, the manipulation of information will have to be done within the UAV, and done in real-time. Several technologies support this requirement, not-the-least of which is ACT devices. ACT technology will be a major innovation in the area of signal processing. ACT devices promise high-bandwidth operation, with wide dynamic range and high-time bandwidth products, in very small packages with simple architecture. These combinations of features could result in improved performance and lower cost for future signal processors. Signal processing is essential to UAV communications (e.g., bandwidth compression, encryption, antijam capability), image processing (e.g., target recognition), and remote sensing (e.g., clutter rejection, low probability of intercept { covert interrogations}, performance enhancements {pulse compression}). ACT devices will allow capabilities that are not possible with any current technology. They will allow greater processing power in a smaller, lower power package than is possible with alternative technologies. Because of the monolithic nature of these devices, their reliability will be much greater than that of the circuit boards they replace. A side benefit will be the higher radiation resistance of GaAs material from which ACT devices are fabricated. ACT devices will process wider bandwidths with a greater dynamic range than is possible with any other technology. This capability is essential for wideband intercept systems. There will be many applications for devices with the operating characteristics of ACT devices, especially UAVborne imaging sensors due to the ability of ACT devices to meet the demands of focal plane imagers for highspeed, wide dynamic range image readout. The imaging application does not utilize the signal-processing power of ACT technology, but rather its raw speed and dynamic range as an analog shift register. These devices will also be capable of performing matched filtering for highly jamresistant and low probability of intercept (LPI) communication systems. They will be capable of dehopping frequencyhopped, spread-spectrum communications systems. Very large time-bandwidth, fixed-tap devices will find application in compressive receivers for wide and signal intercept systems. The analog memory capability of the devices can be used to capture hostile radar pulses, remodulate them, and retransmit them for spoofing purposes. One of the most promising applications of this technology for autonomous UAVs involves the use of ACT devices as



S(t-1, ) SENSE


s(t-T )





Fig. 8.

ACT concept

a high-speed front-end for preprocessing of machine vision by implementing an on-chip, high-speed, 400 Msample/s AID capability. This capability will allow direct processing of vision sensor signals with hundreds of MHz bandwidth received as analog or digital signals. The reduction of wide band input signals to low MHz or high KHz digital signals will allow cost-effective, microprocessor-based on board post processing (Fig. 8).

developed. High-level integration of diverse technologies will provide effective, custom-built, adaptive circuits for new machine vision payloads at a lower price and higher functional density than has been achieved to date. Compatibility with wideband optical and millimeter wave signal distribution links and flexible optical interconnects will permit effective use of these technologies and components in conformal antenna arrays and signal processing structures. Virtually all autonomous UAV payloads that incorporate electronics could improve when the wafer-scale integration of multiple functions becomes possible. Devices would be more capable, more rugged, and less costly. Repair and replacement could be less complex, with large savings in logistics costs.

D.Full Spectrum Ultraresolution Sensors

The need for improved resolution, accuracy, coverage, and timeliness in remote sensing of targets, backgrounds, and the intervening environment pervades a wide range of future autonomous UAV system capabilities. Projected advances in electronics, infonmation processing materials, and computer technology will make possible major improvements in performance of future sensors for autonomous platforms. Innovative new sensor designs are expected to emerge in radars, integrated infrared (IR) and ultraviolet (UV) focal plane arrays, cryogenic inertial sensors, LIDARS, and microwave sounders. The cost-effective production of integrated infrared focal plane arrays with lo3 to lo6 active elements and broad spectral coverage (typically 2-25 pm) will lead to vision systems with vastly increased resolution; new semiconductor materials offer the potential of significantly higher operating temperatures thus reducing cryogenic cooling requirements. Compact, cryogenically cooled inertial measuring units will sense very accurately the linear and angular accelerations and gravity gradlients experienced by the autonomous vehicle. New and improved sensors drawing on LIDAR and microwave approaches offer the opportunity to monitor the environment with greatly enhanced coverage and resolution compared to current sensors. The development of digital RF memories, digital-beam forming circuitry, and the adaptive electronic control of wideband arrays will enable the development of multistatic, simultaneous transmit and receive radars (i.e., operating from multiple UAV platforms) capable of acquiring slowly moving surface and airborne taxgets with low-observable signatures. The integration of active and passive sensors on a single platform would also have an important payoff for autonomous UAV systems. Passive (e.g., nontransmitting) vision sensors could be used where atmospheric conditions permit. These sensors would gather information necessary for navigation or targeting without betraying their presence through detectable transmissions. The active sensors would be used only when the atmospheric conditions made passive sensors unusable, or if some piroperty possessed only by active sensors needed to be exploited.

C. Wafer-Scale Integration o Dissimilar Technologies f

Wafer-scale union or integration refers to an emerging technology that will combine, on a single 3-to-8-in sheet of material, signal generating, signal controlling, information processing, chemical and physical sensing, fluidic and mechanical actuating, radiation generating, and radiation detecting. Components of such combinations are now possible only on separate, isolated, and mutually incompatible optical, magnetic, acoustic, or electronic substrates. Integrating UAV payload subsystems into single monolithic blocks will increase reliability while reducing size and weight, thereby translating into longer time on station at a lower cost. Current electronic materials and advanced solid-state electron device structures permit limited, but direct processing of radar and communication signals in digital or analog forms at near millimeter wave frequencies (15-30 GHz) without having to down-convert to intermediate frequencies. However, some critical high-bandwidth, highthroughput processes, such as phase shifting, time delaying, clocking filtering, signal isolation, and sensing, are more efficiently performed using specialized ferritebased devices, charge-coupled device circuits, or optical and acoustic wave technologies. Unfortunately, these specialized processing devices involve currently incompatible manufacturing processes, or possess drastically different prime power requirements, thereby making them difficult to combine. Further problems will be caused by the handwired interconnects between the separate parts used in the system. A unified technology set incorporating several devices on one chip-to-wafer-sized unit could solve almost all of the problems discussed, simultaneously reducing manufacturing costs and assembly complexity. Wafer-scale integration would develop techniques to integrate these diverse signal-handling requirements into monolithic structures. Accordingly, a set of compatible electronic materials and specialized fabrication processes would be

E. Smart Skins Ship-based autonomous UAVs must be small in order to be launched, retrieved, and stored from their floating host; however in order to carry out various missions, these same UAVs will have to be able to ferry various payloads aloft and maintain them there for hours at a time. In the case of current turret-mounted forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and low-light-level TV (LLLTV) payloads, the air vehicle attachment seems to be more of an afterthought than an engineered aerodynamic design. Protuberances such as FLIR turrets, antennas, and even control surfaces add to the aerodynamic drag of the air vehicle and tend to make its signature more detectable by threat sensor systems. The result of having a low level of payload-air frame integration is a physically larger air vehicle, less time on station (due to decreased flight efficiency-more drag), and impaired survivability. In traditional designs, the skin of an air vehicle is a structural fabric to provide aerodynamic shape, strength, and rigidity. When antennas and sensors were added to the air vehicle, they were installed in holes cut in the skin. These installations have attendant structural, aerodynamic, thermal, and cost penalties. The concept of a Smart Skin is to imbed the antennas, sensors, transmitters, receivers, signal and information processors, RF cables, power cables, electronic control cables, and thermal controls in the skin during the design and construction of the air vehicle. Some structural surfaces should be transparent to various RF bands and/or have controllable properties for transmission and reception. The active and passive sensors would not necessarily be dedicated to any single communications, electronic warfare (EW), radar, identification friend or foe (IFF), or navigation system. A distribution of antennas or sensors might cover 50% of the air vehicle surface and provide aperture over a range of frequencies from several MHz to the optical. Other payoffs provided by the extensive distribution of antennas around the vehicle could be sensors that search a sphere around the air vehicle, therefore increasing the situational awareness of the on board intelligence while reducing the need for external pods. A grid of redundant power, signal, and electronic control cables could be embedded into the skin. This might be accomplished with fiber optic cables. The embedded fiber optic cable could offer the added function of measuring the temperature and stress on the skin panels. This information could be used for battle damage and failure assessment, to recognize that the air vehicle is approaching a structural limit, to record the structural history, and for nondestructive testing. The Smart Skin processing and associated logic would allow the on board autonomous intelligence to assign resources to the various active and passive radiating systems very rapidly. If battle damage occurs, the intelligence could reassign the remaining resources on a logical priority basis. The Smart Skin concept could be extended to smart control surfaces. If various surfaces are damaged, the control processor could identify the extent of damage and

decide how to control the air vehicle with the remaining control surfaces and vectored engine thrust. Smart materials which can change shape, such as nitinol, can be used to modify the aerodynamics of a wing surface to modify lift, or might be modulated as part of a blown slot to effect circulation control and hence modify the attitude of the air vehicle without large moving bam door control surfaces. Smart Skins technology complements fault-tolerant systems technology and should improve mission reliability and supportability of the systems to which it is applied. The Smart Skins technology would increase air vehicle availability in two aspects. First, the concept of designing the antennas, sensors, and buses into the air vehicle would reduce the need for returning the air vehicle to the modification line to have sensors and antennas installed as each new requirement appeared. This also affords the on board intelligence the opportunity to autonomously reconfigure its vision systems as conditions dictate. Secondly, the concept of nondedicated antennas and sensors, in which resources are autonomously allocated by the on board intelligence, would improve the reliability and sortie generation rate. Redundant sensors, reconfigurable antennas, and buses built into the air vehicle would allow it to continue to operate after failure or battle damage with only a slightly reduced capability.

VII. CONCLUSION Fully autonomous vehicles will be a reality in the lifetime of most who are living today. Certain elements which we have termed enabling technologies will not only hasten their advent, but will also significantly improve their performance. Just as the novelty of communication and surveillance satellites has worn off in the space of 20 years, the encroachment of autonomous vehicles, and autonomous systems generally, into our lives will likewise become commonplace. We will come to depend upon autonomous vehicle systems to do what we could never hope to do in a lifetime (deep space exploration), or what we choose not to do in our lifetime (custodial robots). We conclude by pointing to the coordination of multiple vehicles as a problem that will need long term research attention. Regardless of whether our domain of concern is underwater, on the ground, or in the air, in a multivehicle environment each vehicle must be able to reason well enough to ensure either cooperation or, if necessary, elimination of interference. If communication is possible among the vehicles, that reasoning must be about the content and timeliness of the information communicated. If communication is impossible, or occasionally restricted (as it might be for reasons of security, channel capacity or terrain), then reasoning must be about inferred plans and goals. The research community in distributed artificial intelligence has made some progress in tackling these issues, but much remains to be done both in theoretical work to establish what bounds to such automation might exist in principle, and in experimental work to test innovative ideas with simulated or actual multiple vehicle systems.

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Alan L. Meyrowitz received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in mathematics from the University of Maryland, College Park, and the Ph.D. degree in computer science from George Washington University, Washington, DC. He has been Director of the Navy Center for Applied Research i n Artificial Intelligence (NCARAI), Naval Research Laboratory, since 1991. From 1981 to 1991 he managed the Intelligent System:; Program at the Office of Naval Research. encomoassing oroiects in both AI and robotics. He has authored several papers surveying research progress and the outlook for technological advances in AI, robotics, and neural networks. He co-edited volumes one and two of Foundations of Knowledge Acquisition (Kluwer).


D. Richard Blidberg received the B.S. degree in electrical engineenng from the University of New Hampshire, Durham, 1972 He co-founded the Manne Systems Engineering Laboratory (MSEL) at UNH in 1976 In 1993, the laboratory moved from UNH to Northeastern university where he served as Director of MSEL Since 1993, he has been the Director of the Autonomous Undersea Systems Institute (AUSI), Lee, NH His present interests are focused on the development of technologies related to autonomous submersible vehicles and include the investigation of architectures for intelligent guidance and control of multiple autonomous vehicles, applied acoustic navigation, underwater robotics, and biologically-based solutions to vehicle system design Pnor to joining MSEL, he managed the Seabed Survey operations at Ocean Research Equipment Inc , Falmouth, MA, served with the U S Coast Guard, and worked at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution He has wntten several papers and reports on unmanned untethered submersible technology, and has organized a series of international symposia on AUV technology He has served on several science and engineenng committees, consulted for a number of companies and been involved in several international collaborations He is the associate editor of underwater vehicle systems for the IEEE JOURNAL OCEANIC OF ENGINEERING

Robert C. Michelson (Senior Member, IEEE) received the B S degree in electrical engineenng from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, and the M S degree in electrical engineenng from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta He is Principal Research Engineer with the Georgia Tech Research Institute in Atlanta, GA, and an adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Aerospace Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology, Smyrna He is the author of over 50 major publications. He is currently the program manager for the Georgia Department of Transportations Traffic Surveillance Drone and also manages a program for the U S Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to model electric vehicles He has been Principal Investigator for more than 30 major programs to develop the avionics suite for an Air Force Robotic Air-to-Air Combat vehicle, and to generate remote flight control system specifications for drone simulators for the U S Army Mr Michelson is a Full Member of the Scientific Research Society of North America, Sigma Xi, and has been President and past member of the Board of Directors of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International He has also been a creator and organizer of the International Aenal Robotics Competitions