Robotik: CANGURU — Diehl BGT Defence

Robotik: CANGURU — Diehl BGT Defence

Diehl BGT  - CANGURU bzw. MUSTANG MK I ELROB2008 was a great chance for the Diehl BGT Defence team to get into con­tact to MoD, mil­i­tary users and com­pa­nies as well as to uni­ver­si­ties and insti­tutes to learn the sta­tus of tech­no­log­i­cal solu­tions and espe­cial­ly get aware of users needs. This gives them the pos­si­bil­i­ty to align the devel­op­ment roadmap to be most effi­cient with­in the young team (start­ed in the begin­ning of 2007 on the area of “auton­o­my”) con­cern­ing intel­li­gent, mobile sol­dier assis­tance sys­tems like the pre­sent­ed CANGURU (the vehi­cle internally/nationally also known as MUSTANG MK I). A task and user ori­ent­ed imple­men­ta­tion of scal­able autonomous func­tions has been start­ed and will be one focus for fur­ther research and devel­op­ment. Goals are force pro­tec­tion, secure­ment, camp / con­voy secu­ri­ty, MULE with trans­port, con­voy­ing as well as local recon­nais­sance and “guard dog” func­tions.

The Diehl team had the chance to mea­sure and store a vari­ety of data under real envi­ron­ment sys­tem oper­a­tion dur­ing ELROB2008 to test and ver­i­fy the sys­tems per­for­mance and to adjust fur­ther devel­op­ments pre­cise­ly rely­ing on the results which were achieved.

Diehl BGT  - CANGURU bzw. MUSTANG MK I The vehi­cle basic plat­form is based on a cost-effec­tive com­mer­cial-off-the-shelf solu­tion. Its weight is about 350 kg and the load capac­i­ty is 250 kg (please refer to spec­i­fi­ca­tion data at the end of the arti­cle). It is ful­ly dig­i­tized. The assis­tance sys­tem com­pris­es a hybrid dri­ve­train for long range oper­a­tion (200 km / 6–10hrs) capa­bil­i­ties as well as silent move­ment. Var­i­ous changes and mod­i­fi­ca­tions have been done to first give the exper­i­men­tal demon­stra­tor a mil­i­tary chas­sis and more robust func­tion­al­i­ties with respect to oper­a­tions in unstruc­tured ter­rain and more envi­ron­men­tal suit­abil­i­ty while oper­at­ing.

The sys­tem core func­tions (dri­ve-by-wire and remote con­trol) are real­ized PC free com­pris­ing a micro­con­troller board com­put­er. This leads to instant pow­er on and a very robust, fail safe core oper­a­tion. Addi­tion­al­ly the sys­tem com­pris­es two mini PC units to process nav­i­ga­tion as well as vision sens­ing data in an effec­tive way. One PC is pro­cess­ing laser rangefind­er datas­treams and ultra­son­ic sen­sors data as well as the sys­tem com­mu­ni­ca­tion data (con­trol sta­tion to robot and robot-to-robot), the oth­er one is pro­cess­ing a ground­sen­sor, the GPS/inertial data and the data from the CCD cam­era used for the “fol­low­ing func­tion”. Here­in, the oper­at­ing sys­tem is Lin­ux.

Cur­rent­ly, the vehi­cle is incor­po­rat­ing two autonomous modes which will be enhanced in suc­ces­sion. The first one is the autonomous fol­low­ing func­tion (fol­low per­son, jeep, UGV etc.) and the sec­ond one is the autonomous sur­veil­lance / recon­nais­sance func­tion based on way­point plan­ning and exe­cu­tion.

Diehl BGT  - CANGURU bzw. MUSTANG MK I After plan­ning the tasks / mis­sion with help of the graph­i­cal user inter­face of the mis­sion plan­ning tool, the sys­tem is able to fol­low the set of way­points autonomous­ly pre­vent­ing col­li­sions with neg­a­tive and pos­i­tive obsta­cles. In same cas­es, request­ing the oper­a­tor could hap­pen if the local sit­u­a­tion assess­ment is unclear. The way­point-to-way­point tra­jec­to­ry is always cal­cu­lat­ed as lin­ear move­ment. Short tra­jec­to­ries will be able to be bypassed with­out receiv­ing a GPS sig­nal. The mode is day and night capa­ble.

While mov­ing, the envi­ron­ment is per­ceived through laser range find­ers, vehi­cle plat­form cam­eras and a monoc­u­lar vision sys­tem. A pay­load recon­nais­sance suite com­pris­es an infrared cam­era (micro-bolo­met­ric) and a 360° CCD colour zoom cam­era.

As a sta­tus, a so called “hybrid usage” com­pris­ing 3 dif­fer­ent modes of oper­a­tion has been real­ized. Dri­ve-by-wire func­tion per­formed by the oper­a­tor on-board, sin­gle-per­son remote con­trolled oper­a­tion with a portable ground con­trol sta­tion and the mis­sion or task planned oper­a­tion (use of a stan­dard, ruggedi­zed note­book) with the two autonomous­ly run­ning func­tions described above. The portable ground con­trol sta­tion also deliv­ers the oper­a­tor vehi­cle sta­tus infor­ma­tion (atti­tude, ener­gy, dri­ve­train etc) to be aware of sys­tem oper­abil­i­ty.

The key char­ac­ter­is­tics of the sys­tem are the fol­low­ing.

~2.20 m
1.11 m
2.15 m
350 kg
Ground clear­ance
0.2 m
Climb­ing per­for­mance
45 %
Propul­sion / dri­ve­train
Hybrid ~3 kW / 4‑wheel dri­ve
6–10 h
Max­i­mum speed
20 km/h
Max­i­mum range (w — w/o com­mu­ni­ca­tion)
2.5 — 200 km
Load capa­bil­i­ty
~250 kg

The team is led by Dirk Krog­mann, Diehl BGT Defence GmbH & Co. KG, pro­gramme man­ag­er, with his office at Ueber­lin­gen, Ger­many. The tech­ni­cal point of coor­di­na­tion is Thomas Kopf­st­edt, Diehl BGT Defence GmbH & Co. KG, Ueber­lin­gen. The vehi­cle is real­ized under coop­er­a­tion with the Fraun­hofer Insti­tute for Infor­ma­tion and Data Pro­cess­ing, led by Andreas Wen­zel, head of embed­ded sys­tems at the insti­tute sub­sidiary in Ilme­nau, Ger­many. The devel­op­ment is sup­port­ed by the Ger­man Fed­er­al Min­istry of Defense, the Fed­er­al Office of Defense Tech­nol­o­gy and Pro­cure­ment and the Tech­ni­cal Cen­ter 51, Koblenz.

Image source: Diehl BGT Defence GmbH & Co. KG