Thursday, December 29, 2016

U.S. Navy Engineers Develop Autonomy In A Box?

Mark Pomerleau, C4ISRNet
27 December 2016 
As investments in unmanned undersea vehicles are set to increase in the future, assets beneath the surface must have a reliable avenue to meet rapidly changing mission needs. This is where Autonomy in a Box comes in. 
Engineers at the Naval Surface Warfare center developed this solution, which will simplify updates to UUV mission information. 
“Autonomy in a Box is designed to make installing configurations of autonomy software on a vehicle as easy as installing an application from an app store,” Matthew Bays, system engineer, said.
This capability will offer a quickly deployable software solution that provides platforms with a basic autonomy capability, supports configuration management of an autonomy framework to facilitate easier experimentation and compartmentalizes autonomy software development, a Navy release said. 
The release notes that UUVs are currently shared assets between software developers and autonomy projects; step-by-step installations are required before every test of algorithms and operating systems. This process can take days to weeks, with lengthy monetary and mission execution schedule costs. 
The Autonomy in a Box solution leverages a “Docker software pre-developed ‘container,’” a large file that allows users to package an application into a standardized unit for software development, the release said. Moreover, the file condenses software into a complete file system with everything it needs.
Developers can now develop their own Docker container or work with provided baselines. 
"Any group or program 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," Bays said. "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." 
Similar platforms might be used to perform different mission sets, requiring varying levels of autonomy based upon its mission. 
The system was tested in October during the United Kingdom’s Unmanned Warrior exercise. The team is also working toward further integration, as well as developing a topside autonomy testing container and creating more advanced auto-detection features.

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