BAE Systems tech boosts robot UAVs' IQ

Feb. 26, 2008 at 7:06 PM
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FARNBOROUGH, England, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- British company BAE Systems has produced new software that lets its robot Unmanned Air Vehicles think for themselves.

BAE Systems said in a statement last week that its scientists had "developed a technology which allows UAVs -- Unmanned Air Vehicles -- to autonomously work together to adapt plans and flight paths on fact finding missions."

"The cutting edge software combines sophisticated communications networks with more familiar technology such as high-resolution cameras, GPS and Inertial Navigation systems. The entire package will allow UAVs to collectively construct a full assessment of threat situations, providing better protection of troops in the future," BAE Systems said.

"The research, funded by the (British) Ministry of Defense on the back of BAE Systems corporate investment, has completed a flying trial which, for the first time, demonstrated the coordinated control of multiple UAVs autonomously completing a series of tasks," the company said.

"The trials, conducted in partnership with the Australian Center for Field Robotics, demonstrated on-board decision making capabilities, allowing teams of UAVs to decide among themselves which targets each individual vehicle would monitor. Decisions were based on factors such as proximity to the object, how much intelligence previous observations had provided, and which UAV could provide the most informative view," BAE Systems said.

John Anderson, Group Leader Informatics, BAE Systems' Advanced Technology Center said: "Traditional reconnaissance missions comprise fixed viewing patterns ... This technology enables UAVs to automatically select the best set of viewing positions for distinguishing real objects, and providing precise locations. Consequently, the Armed Forces will be able to use the technology to adapt their reconnaissance plan as they go."

The technology is also "being adapted to allow a range of unmanned submersibles, boats, and ground vehicles to interact with one another in the field," the company said.

"This technology demonstrates a move towards more intelligent, autonomous systems, capable of making complex decisions, rather than automated systems," said Simon Jewell, BAE Systems Director of Strategic Business Development. "Reaching these higher levels of autonomy, as opposed to simply removing the pilot from the vehicle, is a key factor in delivering benefit to the front-line."

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