Carnegie Mellon’s Crusher vehicle is capable of operating autonomously in a wide range of complex, off-road terrains. Autonomous ground vehicles face more challenges than air and naval surface vehicles, but the technology is advancing rapidly.
The OPISR software and communications subsystem for autonomous vehicles allows unmanned systems to make critical decisions on the fly so that warfighters directly receive intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data more efficiently than traditional unmanned systems can provide.
Future conflicts will require smart, autonomous unmanned platforms capable of delivering critical information to warfighters at blinding speed, enabling faster, more effective battlefield decisions to win wars and save lives. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory may have been ahead of their time in creating the infrastructure required for autonomous systems to rapidly provide data to warfighters.
A 2012 article in the physics lab’s technical digest describes the Organic Persistent Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (OPISR) system as a “visionary, game-changing approach to ISR.” David Scheidt, a member of the principal professional staff, Research and Exploratory Development Department, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, served as the OPISR principal investigator and authored the article. He calls the system a “novel combination of distributed image processing, information management and control algorithms that enable real-time, autonomous coordination between ad hoc coalitions of autonomous unmanned vehicles, unattended ground sensors and front-line users.”
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