Autonomous Vehicle Developed for Surveying Assault-Zone Runways

TORC Robotics develops autonomous system capable of surveying expedient runways for Air Force Research Labs, in collaboration with Tec^Edge and MDA Corp.

Blacksburg, VA May 08, 2012


TORC Robotics recently demonstrated an autonomous vehicle for Air Force Research Labs (AFRL) capable of performing expedient runway surveys, including taking soil hardness measurements, providing terrain data and reporting hazards to flight. The Robotic Assault Zone Terminal Evaluation Kit (RAZTEK), developed by TORC, AFRL, and Tec^Edge, consists of TORC unmanned vehicle conversion kits and a Mosquito soil sampling device from MDA Corporation installed on a Lightweight Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle (LTATV). The RAZTEK system automates the surveying and sample collection processes, reducing risk on assault-zone survey missions while collecting higher quality data.

Survey teams currently carry all of the necessary equipment along open runway areas. This labor-intensive process leaves them vulnerable to the many inherent risks of extended exposure times with limited situational awareness. The semi-autonomous process of surveying expedient runways with RAZTEK robotic systems offers a much faster, safer, more accurate means to gather the necessary data for assessing potential assault-zone landing strips.

The robotic system conducts survey missions during day and night conditions. While an operator control unit, running FalconView-based mapping software, plans and enacts the survey missions, RAZTEK also provides tele-operation capability for remote control of the system from standoff locations. The converted vehicle maintains its original capabilities and allows for optionally manned operation.

"The RAZTEK system leverages many of the proven technologies developed as part of the ongoing GUSS [Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate project for the Marine Corps. Having platform- and mission-agnostic conversion kits allows us to continually improve our core technology base while rapidly customizing and configuring them for customers' specific applications," states Andrew Culhane, Business Development Manager at TORC Robotics.

For the initial RAZTEK system, the customer-selected mobility platform is up-fit with TORC's ByWire™, Tele-Op, and Autonomy unmanned ground vehicle kits, configured to meet the required mission-specific behaviors. TORC technology interfaces with modular mission payloads, such as the Mosquito, to further automate the mission.

The RAZTEK system has undergone two limited technical assessments (LTA) in the last six months with a final demonstration and delivery to AFRL scheduled for May. Contact TORC to learn more about RAZTEK and how its autonomous vehicle kits were used to rapidly develop the system.

ABOUT TORC Robotics

TORC enables engineers to rapidly integrate robotic systems through a suite of modular, customizable products. Leading academic, commercial and government organizations use the TORC Robotic Building Blocks™ product line to shorten the development process, lower costs and mitigate risks. These products are used on more than 100 mobile robots ranging from 15 pounds to 15 tons. TORC provides solutions for drive-by-wire conversion, emergency stop, power management, autonomous navigation and operator control. For more information, visit http://www.torcrobotics.com.

Featured Product

Universal Robots - Collaborative Robot Solutions

Universal Robots - Collaborative Robot Solutions

Universal Robots is a result of many years of intensive research in robotics. The product portfolio includes the UR5 and UR10 models that handle payloads of up to 11.3 lbs. and 22.6 lbs. respectively. The six-axis robot arms weigh as little as 40 lbs. with reach capabilities of up to 51 inches. Repeatability of +/- .004" allows quick precision handling of even microscopically small parts. After initial risk assessment, the collaborative Universal Robots can operate alongside human operators without cumbersome and expensive safety guarding. This makes it simple and easy to move the light-weight robot around the production, addressing the needs of agile manufacturing even within small- and medium sized companies regarding automation as costly and complex. If the robots come into contact with an employee, the built-in force control limits the forces at contact, adhering to the current safety requirements on force and torque limitations. Intuitively programmed by non-technical users, the robot arms go from box to operation in less than an hour, and typically pay for themselves within 195 days. Since the first UR robot entered the market in 2009, the company has seen substantial growth with the robotic arms now being sold in more than 50 countries worldwide.