Developing Technologies for Interoperable Robot Components

Image of AEODRS UGV

The Advanced Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robotic System (AEODRS) is a Navy-sponsored program for developing a new generation of open, modular robotic systems. The military services have successfully used ground robots in the fight against terror over the past decade. In addition, U.S. and international law enforcement agencies have experienced the benefit of these systems in conducting dangerous and life-threatening tasks that have saved lives throughout the world.

However, there has been a deepening of concern that the lack of interoperability between unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) systems imposes limitations on development and deployment, complicating the integration of advanced technologies and control schemes. The Advanced Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robotic System (AEODRS) is a new program sponsored by the Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division (NAVEODTECHDIV) and currently under test and development at John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL).

The primary goal of the AEODRS program is to develop a new generation of modular open explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) robotic systems that will provide the desired interoperability. Based on the definition of a common architecture that partitions the system into modules possessing common physical, electrical, and logical interfaces. By careful partitioning of the systems into modules and clear specification of the interfaces between those modules, the architecture enables development of capability-specific modules that perform specific functions within an overarching system. This enables the creation of a family of UGV systems providing interoperability and interchangeability at the module level. In turn, the high degree of module-level interoperability and interchangeability enables rapid incremental integration of new technologies and approaches into the AEODRS system.

These “modules” are referred to as Capability Modules (CM) and each CM will have their specific function and will need to interoperate with all other CMs throughout the family.

A key component of tying both the physical and logical layers together in the Master CM (CM-MAS). The Master CM interfaces to both the Intersubsystem Network and the Intrasubsystem Network to provide vehicle subsystem management support and message-routing services for communications beyond the UGV subsystem boundary. Other subsystem management services are also provided.

The Intrasubsystem Network is implemented as a gigabit-capable Ethernet, relying on an unmanaged, speed-sensing switch to enable the connection of CMs supporting 100BASE-T as well as 1000BASE-T interfaces. This provides adequate bandwidth to support present and future telemetry and video requirements. The Master CM would route an OCU request for manipulator information to the Manipulator CM, and the Master CM would route the Manipulator CM response to the OCU.

MilSource has been working diligently with the development team at JHAPL to help develop a CM-MAS based on Techaya technology to help to meet both the physical and logical requirements of this module. As an example, Techaya’s leading tactical router platform, has specifications which are very similar to the CM-MAS requirement. It is comprised of a 12 port gigabit Ethernet switch (layer 3) coupled with an embedded single board computer. The MILTECH 9012X, whose conformance to IP66, MIL-STD-461, 810 and 1275 has been verified by third party labs and has been tested and validated by JHUAPL on the AEODRS test bed.

MilSource and Techaya are excited to be included as a possible solution that may meet the requirement of both JHUAPL and the AEODRS project. The program still had many milestones to achieve as a very complex process.  We’ll be excited to see what come out of the AEODRS project.