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Future Army forces will need to conduct cross-domain maneuver (CDM) and at times, operate semi-independently, disbursed, and while communications and infrastructure such as GPS are disrupted or denied. Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) will play a key role in expanding the operational reach, situational awareness, and effectiveness of maneuver forces in CDM.
The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is focused on developing fundamental understanding and informing the art-of-the-possible for warfighter concepts through research to greatly improve air and ground based autonomous vehicle perception, learning, reasoning, communication, navigation, and physical capabilities to augment and increase the freedom of maneuver in complex and contested environments.
The Scalable, Adaptive, and Resilient Autonomy (SARA) program is focused on developing and experimentally accelerating emerging research in autonomous mobility and maneuverability, scalable heterogeneous and collaborative behaviors, and human agent teaming to realize adaptive and resilient Intelligent Systems that can reason about the environment, work in distributed and collaborative heterogeneous teams, and make op-tempo decisions to enable Autonomous Maneuver in complex and contested environments.
Q&A Archive: Cycle 1
ARL Collaborative Alliance Manager:
- Opportunity released 8 February 2021
- Opportunity Webinar 19 February 2021
- Deadline for Questions on Funding Opportunity 5 March 2021
- Proposals due for Cycle 2 19 March 2021
- Cycle 2 Awards May 2021 (expected)
SARA Cycle 2: The SARA program will consist of a series of technology sprint topics executed in annual program cycles. Each topic will be focused on addressing a different scientific area within the scope of the broad research aims of the SARA program. Each topic will be carefully chosen based on both program achievements from the previous year, on scientific and technological advancements by the broader research community, and in a way to systematically converge on the specific long-term SARA program goals. The SARA Cycle 2 Technology Sprint Topic is “Autonomous Complex Terrain Maneuver.” Within “Autonomous Complex Terrain Maneuver,” there are two sub-topic areas of interest as described below.
Sub-topic #1: Army RAS will need the ability to autonomously maneuver through increasingly complex levels of vegetation such as tall grass and vegetation, tree saplings and brush that cannot be avoided, fallen trees and other low debris that can be traversed, and low-hanging tree branches that can obscure perception but can be driven through. In these cases, the autonomous system would need to overcome limitations in perception and understanding of the environment and vehicle performance to enable it to maneuver through where it perceives there to be traversable as well as impassable obstacles. The challenge goal will be to generate information to feed path planners and semantic information to generate best path within a bounded corridor that considers risk and probability of successful traverse, assess complexity of obstacles, impact of stealth/visibility to path options, speed of traverse, and distance of traverse.
Sub-topic #2: Army RAS will need the ability to autonomously maneuver through complex slopes, across dry river beds, fordable wet gap crossings, and desert dry washes. In these cases, the autonomous vehicle cannot pass directly from point A to point B across the terrain given the sharp and varying slopes involved but with advanced planning, perception, and understanding both short and long range traversable paths are possible. The goal of this challenge will be to generate information to feed path planners, and semantic information to generate best path within a bounded corridor that considers risk and probability of successful traverse, assess complexity of obstacles, impact of stealth/visibility to path options, speed of traverse, and distance of traverse.