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Transportable Manned and Robotic Digital Geophysical Mapping (DGM) Tow Vehicle. Scott Millhouse, PE U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineering and Support Center Huntsville. Project Description- Technical Description of Proposed Technology.

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transportable manned and robotic digital geophysical mapping dgm tow vehicle

Transportable Manned and Robotic Digital Geophysical Mapping (DGM) Tow Vehicle

Scott Millhouse, PE

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Engineering and Support Center


project description technical description of proposed technology
Project Description- Technical Description of Proposed Technology
  • Objective: integrate an innovative robotic tow vehicle with industry standard DGN sensors & advanced geo-location positioning to autonomously map target areas.
    • Phase I: focus on integration & path following to precisely replicate target coverage for multiple runs with multiple sensors. Objective is to centimeter level.
    • Phase II: focus on challenging site conditions requiring obstacle recognition & avoidance with a secondary positioning system to maintain path when the primary positioning system is shadowed.

Proposed Robotic Solution

Segway Robotic Mobility Platform (RMP)

Proven battery powered commercial people mover can be robotically controlled as autonomous, semi-autonomous or tele-operated vehicle. Over 45 platforms currently deployed for robotics development with many for DARPA military mission development.

Segway RMP 200 and 400

segway tow vehicle
Segway tow vehicle
  • Two wheel manned and robotic- self balance using gyroscopic sensors.
  • Input/0utput pulse at 100 hz
  • Wheels individually electrically driven (2 HP sustained each to 5 peak each)
robotic control
Control Interface

RMP provides transportation (turn, steering) to a higher level system that performs the navigation task

CANbus is already part of Segway HT architecture for communications to user interface

Commands and data are exchanged on CANbus with a high level controller (uP, PCMCIA etc.)

Two control modes:

Tractor (no stabilization)

Balance (Dynamically stabilized)

Robotic Control
canbus usb communication


Turn rate


Controller mode

Gain mode

CANbus & USB Communication
  • Data
    • Pitch Angle
    • Pitch Rate
    • Roll Angle
    • Roll Rate
    • Wheel Speeds
    • Wheel motor currents
    • Integrated wheel positions

(All data at 100 Hz)

teleoperation example





Vector CANCardX

WL110 Wireless

WL110 Wireless

Network Card

Network Card

Teleoperation Example
phase i positioning arcsecond triad indoor gps
Phase I PositioningArcSecond Triad “Indoor GPS”
  • 40 hz 3D positioning with attitude (roll, pitch, yaw, rotation)
  • Sub-centimeter accuracy (independently proven by recent AETC testing)
  • Unit on DGM sensor plus on tow vehicle to adjust for varying lever arm.
project description technical description of proposed technology1
Project Description- Technical description of proposed technology
  • Clearly explain the methodology involved in the demonstration, and the DEM/VAL issue.
  • If the demonstration involves multiple technology components, clearly specify the DEM/VAL technology issue.
  • Provide technical details regarding the proposed method.
  • Identify and discuss technical risks
proposed phase i
Demonstrate capability of :

Tele-operation of the Segway tow vehicle/DGM trailer system

Video feedback

Remote control

Autonomous path following

in an obstacle-free environment

Proposed Phase I
phase i teleoperation
Video feedback

Low cost video camera

Mounted on controllable pan/tilt platform

GUI for Segway driving commands

Implemented in Visual Basic

Interfaces to Segway CANbus communications

Teleoperation by remote access of Segway computer desktop via 802.11b/g network

Phase I - Teleoperation
phase i autonomous tracking
Position sensing

infrared laser beacons

network system

Navigation/steering control

Adapt from Auburn Univ. Grand Challenge experience

Obstacle fee environment

Develop “standard” for later comparisons

Phase I – Autonomous Tracking
proposed phase ii
Autonomous navigation over challenging site

Larger area

Temporary loss of primary sensor

Obstacle detection and avoidance

Proposed Phase II
phase ii navigation
Autonomous navigation over challenging site

GPS complemented by inertial measurement

Proven experience

Also investigate other sensing

Electronic compass, LIDAR mapping

Simultaneous Location and Mapping

Also investigate other complements

Tracking image on far horizon (like driving a car)

Phase II - Navigation
phase ii obstacle avoidance

Combination of LIDAR/ultrasound/image analysis

LIDAR good for long range

Combination of other sensors for short range

Path adaptation

Map the detected obstacles in near field

Move waypoints as needed to avoid mapped obstacles

Phase II – Obstacle Avoidance
project description method for verifying technology
Project Description- Method for verifying technology
  • Specific controls.
  • Monitoring approach.
  • Mass-balance issues
project description evidence of technical maturity
Project Description- Evidence of technical maturity
  • Brief description of previous, related demonstrations.
  • Data justifying the expected performance.

Pre-project Geonics EM-61 Testing

Static and Dynamic testing shows no effect to the EM at a 2 m distance from rear of HT to center of coil


Pre-Project Geometrics G-858 Magnetometer

Testing run in the gradiometer mode with the HT effecting the instrument at 1 m statically and 2 m dynamically from center to HT.


Use a 2 m separation from center of sensors to rear of HT.


Pre-Project DGM mapping test

  • Details of composite tow bar & non-metallic components. 2 m tow bar, equipment and data display

Pre-Project DGM mapping test

  • Proof of concept- EM-61 integrated and towed to map McKinley Range Grid 1
  • No Segway interference to sensor- results exactly as by man towed
  • 3 hours mapping in 8-12” field grass
au tele operated vehicle
AU Tele-operated Vehicle

Low cost web-cam, 802.11b wireless communication



Technical Description of Technology

  • 2004 DARPA Grand Challenge
  • SciAutonics, LLC and Auburn University team vehicle
    • 4-wheel drive ATV
  • AU developed controls
    • Navigation (EKF)
    • Steering
    • Throttle
gps imu complement
GPS/IMU Complement
  • The combination provides a high update rate,
  • low noise, unbiased measurement solution
other relevant experience
Other Relevant Experience
  • Cm-level control for row crops
  • Reduced overlap for tillage
  • Cooperating Vehicles
tractor system dynamic model
Tractor System Dynamic Model

Includes “lever arm” correction

experimental results
Experimental Results
  • Implement tracking
more au experience
Dead reckoning navigation (no GPS)

Experiments up to 4 minutes

Vehicle dynamics, modeling, control

Extended Kalman Filters for various sensor complements

Ultrasonic location

Optical flow research

More AU Experience
Project Description- Approach for obtaining cost and performance data for validation of proposed technology
  • Most critical is data on life-cycle cost advantage over current approaches .
proposed location for demonstration and or approach for selection of demonstration site
Proposed location for demonstration and/or approach for selection of demonstration site.
  • Reasons for and implications of this choice
expected dod benefit
Expected DoD Benefit
  • Provide realistic cost comparisons with similar and current approaches.
  • Include operational, management, and capital costs.
Describe the anticipated payback for the proposed technology.

Estimate the payback for implementation at an individual site and across

DoD in terms of reduced cost and environmental risk.

Expected DoD Benefit

Identify the extent of the DoD problem and specify other Services’ explicit involvement.

Number of potential sites within DoD.

Expected DoD Benefit

Provide milestone descriptions for the duration of the project and the expected contracting schedule.

Provide current estimates for funding requirements per fiscal year.

Provide breakout by performer and major task.

If other sources of funding are expected or will be leveraged, describe their status and the role of the requested ESTCP funding.

Project Milestones and Funding Profile

Identify technology transfer plans within and across Services and proposed mechanisms to facilitate technology transfer (presentations and symposia are not sufficient).

Identify specific DoD end-use customers across DoD components.

Describe the approach for obtaining DoD and regulatory acceptance.

Transition Plan

Provide evidence of commitment for demo facilities involved.

Describe the responsibilities of team members and their expected funding allotments.




Issues of concern and risks for field testing



Approach for determining performance

Productivity and costs will be compared to traditional ground based methodologies. The labor, rental and equipment saving will be equated to dollars.

Operating costs, maintenance and repair of the RMP will be estimated based upon field experience.The vehicle cost will be amortized over a 3 year period based upon 1000 hrs of yearly use with no residual value. These costs will be summed into an hourly rate comparable to the helicopter rental rate.


Approach for determining costs

Pre-Proposal effort Done

Phase I:

Develop plans and acquire vehicle Months 1-3

Initial test and modify vehicle Month 4-5

System Development Months 5-6

Perform validation testing Month 7

Report Findings Month 8

Go/No Go Decision Month 9

Phase II (Optional):

Technology Study Months 10-11

Technology Development Month 10-18

Perform demos at a project site Month 18-19

Create Reports Months 20-22


Pre-Proposal- Equipment & Testing by USAESCH $20k

Phase I:

USAESCH management and technology development $22k

Workplan $10k

Equipment/ base Segway XT, tow bar system, RMP, and PC $60k

Modification to the ArcSecond Triad Position system $9k

Writing and testing path following command software (Auburn U) $54k

Initial testing and modification $12k

APG demonstration at the Calibration Area with EM-61 and G-858 $15k

Phase I Reporting $15k

IPR and Environmental Conference $10k

Donation by USAESCH -$15k

Total Phase I $192,333

Current Funding Estimates

Phase II (Optional):

USAESCH management, reporting, development $40k

Workplan $10k

Obstacle avoidance and position augmentation $162k

Initial testing and modification $15k

Active Site demonstration production mapping $35k

Phase II Reporting $20k

IPR and Environmental Conference $10k

Subtotal Phase II $292,328

Total Phase I and II $484,660


Current Funding Estimates

Phase I will use the APG Calibration Lanes after validation testing at Auburn and McKinley Range

Phase II is planned for a FUDS site of opportunity.

As an alternative APG and/or YPG could be used.

We desire a more challenging site with terrain, view obstructions and obstacles


Commitment from Demonstration Facility


PI, Management, reporting, technology development, testing and modifications for all Phases

Field Support



Phase I Path following, field testing and reporting

Phase II system integration, software, field testing, reporting


Team Member Responsibilities

Phase I

CEHNC; labor, materials etc. $138k

Auburn University $54k

Phase II

CEHNC; labor, materials etc. $202k

Auburn University $90k


Team Member Funding Allotments

review comments
“Please elaborate on the proposed uses and concept of operation for this tow vehicle. Discuss potential terrain and vegetation limitations that could be encountered. The Program Office is concerned that the applicability for this technology will be limited to only a fraction of the sites where man-portable systems are required.”Review Comments
This tow vehicle is planned to be used to replace a man for geophysical surveys requiring any man portable towed sensor to include the Geonics EM series, magnetometer arrays, GEMs, GPR etc. If a man could safely tow the equipment then we envision that the RMP could perform the task faster, safer and to a higher accuracy over similar terrain and vegetation coverage. Site pre-planning will be required. The required pathway must be established by creating a pathway reference file ahead of time in the field or the office and the file input to the robotic control computer. For Phase II we will be only monitoring the location of the robot by track maps, video and sensor readings. Future effort could process, review and interpret the data in real time from a remote office location.

The mobility of the manned Segway exceeded our expectations even with the pavement tires for both slope and vegetation. The manned proof of concept testing was made in heavy field grass 8-12” high with no problem. With the ATV tires we envision that it could traverse any location that an EM-61 or any narrow man towed array could be used for terrain and vegetation. Each drive motor puts out up to 2 HP so there is ample towing power for our limited payload for all reasonable slopes. The Segway automatically adjusts it’s lean and balances fore and aft but it does not balance or adjust from side to side. This will necessitate path setup to travel with the slope. If the vehicle travels traverse to a large enough slope it could upset.

review comments1
“Please reevaluate the cost breakout for Phase II of the proposal. This effort appears to require significant development work and there is a concern that the planned resources will be insufficient.”

Our University partner, Auburn, is a development partner for teams down selected for participation in the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge contest demonstration. The costing and equipment has been reviewed and updated based upon the most recent developments and technology being applied to this effort. Phase II is planned to demonstrate in typical reasonable conditions to perform a survey by autonomous, semi-autonomous and by tele-operated control. As in all production surveys, there will be data gaps that must be filled by manual means such as between trees, boulders and in holes and ditches.

Review Comments
review comments2
“Include in your deliverables a draft and final Demonstration Plan, Final Report, and Cost and Performance Report, in accordance with the full proposal instructions. Guidance describing ESTCP expectations for these products can be found on the ESTCP web site,”

Costing is included for labor, travel and supplies to support all ESTCP deliverables to include; a draft and final Demonstration Plan for Phase I and II, a yearly Phase I Report, a Final Project Report, and a Final Cost and Performance Report as well as yearly presentation at the IPR, a poster at the SERDP/ESTCP symposium and required status entry into the SEMS system.

Review Comments
review comments3
“Plan for the first fiscal year of funding to cover work from 1 March through 31 December 2006, and all subsequent years to cover January 1 through December 31.”

Phase I is a 9 month program planned for 1 March through 31 December 2006 with Phase II for 1 January-31 December 2007

Review Comments
This project proposes developing a low cost vehicle for ground based mass mapping areas with geophysical sensors autonomous, semi-autonomous or tele-operated.

The focus is improve accuracy & data density, faster, safer and cheaper