The Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, Virginia Tech, and TORC were tasked by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL) to design, develop, and test a fleet of four Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate (GUSS) vehicles. GUSS systems are optionally unmanned and autonomous vehicles that reduce the dependence of dispersed ground combat elements on external resupply, reduce the loads carried by the dismounted Warfighter, and aid casualty evacuation. This functionality lightens the load of the dismounted Warfighter and increases the durations units can operate independently.
GUSS can carry approximately 1800 pounds and is designed for autonomous speeds of five miles per hour, or about the speed of dismounted troops.
TORC products (hardware and software) make up the key components of the autonomous vehicle kits that Virginia Tech installed on existing Polaris MVRS700 6x6 platforms to create the four GUSS robotic systems. The ByWire, SafeStop, and PowerHub were used in the conversion of the base vehicle to provide the drive-by-wire, power distribution, and wireless emergency stop systems. Additionally, TORC provided a custom AutonoNav, which includes the required computing modules and autonomous navigation software for unmanned and autonomous operation. This included a localization module and the main processors for sensors data and autonomous decision making.
Finally, the WaySight, a multi-functional handheld operator control unit, was used as the primary operator interface for the GUSS vehicles. Using the one pound WaySight, the dismounted Warfighter can easily command the vehicles in various modes depending on the missions being executed. The WaySight modes include: “Target Mode” for rapid path planning using its sight-and-click waypoint tagging, “Follow Me” mode in which GUSS follows autonomously at a predetermined distance, and “WE Mode” which allows for teleoperation of the vehicle. With a few button presses, the operator can quickly switch between modes and use the most appropriate method of robotic control as situation the situation changes.
GUSS is currently an ongoing effort, having completed the first two phases and a series of tests. The most recent experimentation includes being the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory’s Enhanced Company Operations Limited Objective Experiment 4.0. This took place in July 2010 during the RIMPAC 2010 exercises. TORC is also leveraging work with other DoD organizations to enhance the capabilities of GUSS in areas such as perception and dynamic obstacle detection.
Media Coverage of GUSS - Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate: