Digital geophysical mapping (DGM) is used to map, locate, identify, and select anomalies for sampling and removal within areas containing unexploded ordnance (UXO). Many modes of DGM including airborne and ground-based platforms such as large towed arrays and man-portable equipment are used. Some amount of ground-based mapping by man-portable or narrow width towed platforms is needed depending on terrain, ground cover, and UXO objective. Man-portable equipment uses the operator to carry the electronics and batteries and tow or swing the sensors in addition to monitoring the equipment and maintaining track. This can lead to reduced data quality as a result of deviation from pathway and inadequate sensor and position monitoring. Fatigue can cause reduced production and inattention to safety concerns.
The objective of this project was to integrate an innovative robotic tow vehicle with industry standard DGM sensors and advanced geo-location positioning equipment to autonomously map target areas.
The DGM tow vehicle demonstrated in this project was the Segway Robotic Mobility Platform (RMP) 4 wheel RMP 400 ATV configuration. Robot positioning was provided to centimeter accuracy by a commercial integrated differential global positioning system (DGPS)/ inertial navigation system (INS) solution, the Novatel SPAN system with the high precision Honeywell HG1700 AG58 gyro. Trailer DGM sensor location was determined by geometric calculations based on tow bar hitch angles and the fixed tow bar lengths and alternately by a second DGPS placed on the trailer.
This project demonstrated that a robotic solution can provide more precise path following, a more consistent speed, and greater productivity. The demonstration focused on integration and path following to precisely replicate target coverage for multiple runs with multiple sensors. It was performed at the calibration lanes of the Aberdeen Proving Ground Standard UXO Technology Demonstration Site. The mass mapping demonstration was performed in the open field to obtain productivity, performance, and costing data. The project team mapped the calibration grid 14 times for 1.8 hectare (10 coverage for the RMP 400, 3 for the manned, and 1 with the XT). The open field was mapped as 5 grids by the RMP 400 for 2.3 hectare with Grid 4 (0.2 Hectare) mapped by both manned and the XT to gauge performance and productivity.
More efficient and accurate DGM operations can achieve better technical performances at reduced cost. Precise path following and autonomous DGM operations will support faster, more accurate, and less expensive detection, characterization, and anomaly removal.