Tuesday, May 29th 2012
TORC Robotics Uses Rain-Making Smart Road for Testing New Obstacle Detection System
Weather-Making Capabilities Allows TORC to Run Controlled Experiments
BLACKSBURG, VA (May 29, 2012) – TORC Robotics recently tested its Long-Range Obstacle Detection (LROD) software and sensing payload on the Virginia Smart Road located at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI). TORC used the Smart Road’s weather-making systems to produce rainfall from a light mist to downpours, allowing the LROD system to perform obstacle detection and classification experiments in a variety of traffic, speed, and weather conditions. While the prototype LROD system undergoes initial testing on a ByWire XGV™, TORC’s robotics research platform, its modular design allows for use on many different ground vehicles, including the HMMWV and Light Medium Tactical Vehicles.
In January of this year, TORC was subcontracted through the Robotics Technology Consortium, and funded by the Joint Ground Robotics Enterprise, to develop an advanced sensor fusion system that will significantly increase obstacle detection range while traveling at speeds up to 100 KPH. In order for military unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) to be able to operate autonomously and keep pace with the force in complex environments, “UGV perception technology must be capable of detecting, classifying, and predicting obstacles at longer ranges while moving at operational speeds,” stated Andrew Culhane, Business Development Manager at TORC Robotics. The LROD system will help bridge the gap from currently deployed robotic systems that operate at much slower speeds or only in pre-planned scenarios.
The system fuses multiple sensor modalities through a joint probabilistic data association to reduce false positive/negative data, which is essential to achieving safe and reliable high-speed autonomous navigation. TORC will incorporate the enhanced perception capabilities with its core AutonoNav™ framework, its scalable, customizable suite of autonomy software modules and a key component of its Autonomy Kit for unmanned vehicles.
The Virginia Smart Road, located at VTTI, is a state-of-the-art, 2.2-mile two-lane road that features various weather-making capabilities, including rain, snow, and fog, multiple intersections, variable lighting systems and a differential Global Positioning System. Transportation scientists and researchers of high-tech roadway technologies use this unique roadway, managed by VTTI and owned and maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). TORC frequently utilizes the Smart Road when testing its on-road autonomy systems, demonstrates its autonomous vehicles, needs a closed test-bed or requires controlled weather conditions.
TORC will demonstrate functionality of its new long-range obstacle detection, classification and prediction capabilities later in 2012, with development planned through 2013. For more information on the LROD software and sensor payload, contact TORC Robotics online or at 1-540-443-9262.