2013 IR&D Annual Report

Advanced Situational Awareness Experiment, 10-R8284

Principal Investigator
Michael S. Moore

Inclusive Dates: 12/27/11 – 01/01/13

Background — Southwest Research Institute has supported the U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Command, Control, and Communications Tactical (PEO C3T) in developing the Vehicular Integration for C4ISR/EW Interoperability (VICTORY) architecture since 2008. This architecture provides a foundation-enabling sensor and weapon-system interoperability on military tactical vehicles. The VICTORY architecture will provide a core vehicle network that will enable interoperability between systems on the vehicle. Leveraging the VICTORY integration and adding an extra-vehicle mesh network to also share data between the vehicles will enable new situational awareness applications.

Recognizing this potential, SwRI conducted an initial internal research project (10-R8107), resulting in new technologies. One technology receives first-hand observation inputs from multiple, disparate sensors on the vehicles and coordinates between the vehicles to develop an overall view of the local operational picture. It applies heuristic algorithms that correlate the information from the various sensors and automatically applies reasoning that is currently done manually by the soldiers. The goal is to create more actionable information for soldiers. As an example, sensors that are currently fielded have high false alarm rates and, as a result, are often disabled by frustrated soldiers. The Advanced Situational Awareness (ASA) technology should reduce the false alarm rates by correlating information from multiple sensors and from other vehicles. The second technology integrates the operational picture with real-time battle maps and video streams, creating fused views with the goal of providing relevant, timely information to the soldier in simple views.

Approach — The technology developed in the prior project was evaluated in a laboratory setting. This current project is integrating experimental systems on three vehicles and executing experiments in military-relevant scenarios. The feedback obtained from the experiments is being used to adjust the approaches in the correlation and visualization tools and increase their relevance to soldiers. The objective is to quantitatively and qualitatively measure the effectiveness of the ASA technologies and mature the algorithms to meet warfighter needs. Toward this objective, SwRI is collaborating with the Army's Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate (NVESD), which supports the Army Deployable Force Protection (DFP) program. They have teamed with SwRI to integrate the ASA systems with DFP systems, develop military relevant scenarios, and execute experiments.

Accomplishments — An ASA demonstrator vehicle was integrated with a variety of sensors, cameras, and displays to evaluate the technologies. The demonstration vehicle was used in conjunction with two VICTORY-enabled HMMWVs and a stationary Tactical Operations Center (TOC) to develop and test ASA technologies at SwRI. These platforms are integrated via a Extra Vehicle Mesh Network (EVMN), which enables sharing relevant situational awareness information. This shared information is presented to users on an integrated mapping application, "augmented reality" video overlays, and tabular user interfaces.

SwRI then teamed with NVESD after completion of initial ASA technologies testing at SwRI in a weeklong exercise at Camp Roberts, Calif. The SwRI/NVESD team integrated a DFP-VICTORY-ASA experimental system, including three VICTORY and ASA-enabled vehicles (the demonstration vehicle and two HMMWVs), an experimental TOC, and a large-scale DFP network. Extensive experiments were conducted, and data and feedback were collected. Lessons learned from that exercise were used to evolve and mature the ASA technologies.

As a direct follow-on to this research, SwRI received funding from NVESD in FY2013 to integrate a "mobile sensor platform," consisting of an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) (Polaris RZR), a VICTORY network implementation, and a "platoon level interoperability" package. Platoon level interoperability is the newest incarnation of the ASA concept and concentrates on coordination between VICTORY-enabled vehicles and sharing and correlating data from distributed mobile sensors. SwRI integrated the mobile sensor platform with the NVESD integrated sensor architecture (ISA), which is used to integrate DFP systems that protect forward operating bases, and delivered the vehicle in November 2013. Additional follow-on work in FY2014 is planned. This work will extend the platform with additional capabilities and support a demonstration including the ATV mobile sensor platform and the ASA demonstration vehicle. The demonstration is tentatively planned for January 2014 at a location in Mississippi.

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