Sarcos Defense, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sarcos Robotics, and BAE Systems plc, announced on August 16 that the companies are partnering to develop advanced perception and sensing capabilities for autonomous platforms for the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), to benefit Department of Defense (DoD) operations.
Sarcos and BAE Systems FAST Labs were awarded a $1.699M contract by AFRL to work on a collaborative sensing platform. The work is expected to continue through 2023, culminating with the demonstration of the new solution.
This platform will aim to address the complex issues that involve the coordination of both individual and multiple cooperating heterogeneous autonomous platforms, including unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) equipped with standard multi-modal sensors, such as cameras, radar, and LiDAR. The expected result will coalesce multiple environmental inputs and combine with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies to enable unmanned systems to work together in greater harmony, both alone and coordinating with each other in “swarm” scenarios. The platform will be designed to enable better situational awareness and safety, including accurate detection, tracking, and classification of time-critical objects, particularly in unstructured environments.
Sarcos expects to apply this research in its commercial robotics products, particularly in its forthcoming Cybernetic Training for Autonomous Robots (CYTAR) AI platform, which Sarcos is also working with AFRL to develop. Learnings will be leveraged to further improve situational awareness and safety for Sarcos’ robotic technologies, including its Guardian XT highly dexterous teleoperated robot and Guardian XO full-body, battery-powered industrial exoskeleton.
“This collaboration represents an exciting opportunity to bring together a team of world-renowned experts from both academia and DoD contractor organizations to develop a solution that will enable the military and other entities to operate autonomous platforms with greater speed and efficacy,” said Dr. Denis Garagić, chief scientist, advanced systems and AI, Sarcos. “This project has wide-reaching implications, enabling safer and much more accurate deployments of autonomous platforms while improving data quality and overall operational efficiency. At Sarcos, we believe this technology will also assist us with the operation of our own technologies, including our CYTAR AI platform for autonomous robots.”
“We look forward to seeing the results of this research project and the potential impact it may have on our U.S. defense operations,” said Dr. Peter Zulch, Air Force Research Labs. “Better perception and improving sensing lags are critical challenges, particularly as autonomous systems become more widely used. Sarcos and BAE Systems are best positioned to develop a solution that will enable these platforms to better communicate and share information to enhance safety and help us make critical operational decisions faster.”