The UK Centre for Defence Enterprise, which has now transitioned to the Defence and Security Accelerator, will provide £365,000 in funding to engineering consultant HORIBA MIRA. The funding will help HORIBA MIRA deliver a second phase of its UGV Autonomy research project, known as ‘UGV Localisation and Perception using Deep Learning Neural Networks.’
The overall aim of the project is to develop vision-based localization and perception technology that will allow UGVs to operate smoothly in difficult environments. Using Artificial Intelligence provided by computer vision cameras and deep learning neural networks, HORIBA MIRA is looking to ensure that both manned and unmanned military platforms are capable of adapting to changing conditions and environments experienced in the field.
One of the specific goals of the project is to create an alternative, or a ‘fail-safe,’ to the Global Positioning System (GPS) and Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), the two most common systems that guide UGVs during drives. Both of those systems are susceptible to jamming and interference, which can be a problem for UGVs operating in certain military contexts and situations.
“The technology that we are developing enables a breakthrough in autonomy, meaning that our vehicles can start to understand their surroundings and no longer be reliant on off-board systems such as GPS,” says HORIBA MIRA’s Chief Engineer for Defence Solutions Andrew Maloney through press release
“Winning the second phase of the project means we can improve the core technology and take the system to new environments where it hasn’t been before to assess its ability to navigate and drive them autonomously.”
The first phase of the project, which was completed in 2016, resulted in HORIBA MIRA’s Modular Autonomous Control Equipment (MACE) research vehicle being equipped with a proof of concept system created by HORIBA MIRA. During a demonstration of the system onboard the MACE research vehicle, the vehicle navigated, localized and drove autonomously without GPS.
During the second phase of the project, HORIBA MIRA will look to improve the system performance and sensing capability of the proof of concept system. HORIBA MIRA will also look to create an advanced prototype that can be integrated into a variety of existing systems. That prototype could serve as an alternative to GPS, or compliment it.
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