US Navy wants Autonomy in a Box
The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) has developed a new ‘Autonomy in a Box’ system designed to dramatically reduce the level of effort and lead time required to programme an unmanned underwater vehicle’s (UUV’s) mission.
The goal of Autonomy in a Box is to develop a quickly-deployable software solution to give unmanned systems a basic autonomy capability, support configuration management of an autonomy framework to facilitate easier experimentation and compartmentalise autonomy software development.
Currently, UUVs are a shared asset between many software developers and autonomy protects. When developers write access to their algorithms and operating system, it requires step by step installations before every new test, in addition to a verification process. This effort can take anywhere from days to weeks to perform and at a great cost in both dollar terms and schedule for mission execution.
Autonomy in a Box will make it significantly easier to install, deploy, reconfigure and test an autonomy solution within an unmanned system in a fraction of the time.
NSWC PCD has introduced the use of Docker software pre-developed ‘containers’ - one large file which allows users to package an application into a standardised unit for software development. These containers condense the software into a complete file system that contains everything it needs to run. From this, autonomy developers can develop their own Docker containers or work with provided baselines.
Matthew Bays, NSWC PCD autonomous systems engineer, said: ‘Any group or programme that wants to test their autonomy software can get a copy of the base frameworks within a Docker image and integrate their experimental software off-site into the image. After the copy is returned, the integrity of the software would need to be verified with respect to the changes they have made and deploy it onto our unmanned assets.’
The Autonomy in a Box system was demonstrated during Unmanned Warrior in October 2016.
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