ANTX/CURRE Robot Demonstration

ANTX/CURRE Robot Demonstration


Robots, A Smart Box – And a
coordinated effort that could one day save lives in
the field. This was the idea behind a recent NAWCAD
demonstration at Webster Outlying Field in St.
Inigoes, Maryland. It’s called “CURRE,” short for
“Cooperative Unmanned Air Systems and Robots for
Remote Explosive Ordnance Disposal.” Essentially the
problem we’re trying to solve is, today if there’us
a suspected Improvised Explosive Device, or IED,
the war fighter has to potentially transit a war
zone zone where they can be subject to hostile actions.
Instead we deliver it with an unmanned helicopter and
an unmanned robot. Visitors saw a robot emerge from a
smart crate on its own. Crews several miles North at
Patuxent River Naval Air Station observed the whole
thing through the camera on the robot with the help of a
communication link attached to an unmanned TigerShark
aircraft. The aircraft – operated by crews from the
University of Maryland. Once the robot is out of the box
– the operators can move the robot from where they sit.
After the mission is over – the robot moves back into
the box on its own. The technology – and the years
of teamwork behind this operation – started with a
Robotics Technologist – During the Middle East
conflicts, the EOD technician was exposed to
all kinds of hazards, trying to eliminate hazards. And
so, that’s where this idea came from: What can I do to
make my technicians safer, keep them out of harm’s way
and allow them to carry out their mission? From that,
the idea came to have a robot do the dirty work for
service members in the field. These robots that can
be operated from miles away. Enter the folks from the
Robotics Lab in Lakehurst, New Jersey. We had to be
able to, without any sort of user intervention, have the
robot find the crate, drive to the front of the crate,
open the crate up and then drive into the container
then close everything up for retrieval. We essentially
programmed all the mechanisms or high-level
behaviors that would tell the robot how to do its job
of entering and exiting the container. So on this day,
the CURRE demonstration proved wildly successful,
illustrating two major accomplishments for the
teams: The autonomy that’s required to provide the
smarts to that robot to drive up into that robot is
NOT trivial by any means… We’ve reduced risk for a
fully autonomous deployed robot by leaps and bounds
today. Second, to provide communication to a robot
over 10-miles away is a very, very big deal. Not
trivial. We were essentially demonstrating a technology
that we hope in the future will become something the
fleet will use. That we were able to demonstrate it and
hopefully more projects come out of this. It opens the
door to more testing with technology like we tested
today. The next steps: making the Smart Box and its
robots sturdier, to handle all kinds of tough weather
and environmental challenges. The CURRE
demonstration is part of a larger series of test
exercises known as ANT-EX-TEST-EX.

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