Autonomous vehicle systems, whether for land, sea, or air, are increasingly common in military, industrial, and consumer applications – for everything from moving cargo in a warehouse to mapping the ocean floor. Drones, the most familiar example of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), even made the cover of Time magazine last month, with an article describing the advent of UAVs in non-military uses and the roles they will play in our lives: “Police departments will use them to study crime scenes. Farmers will use them to watch their fields. Builders will use them to survey construction sites. Hollywood will use them to make movies. Hobbyists will use them just because they feel like it,” writes Time reporter Lev Grossman. The possibilities for using unmanned vehicle systems of all sorts – land, sea, air – are so great that the nonprofit Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) recently launched a new website, Increasing Human Potential, to provide information about the expanding number of tasks for which autonomous vehicle systems are ideal. Examples include helping firefighters, forecasting hurricanes, and monitoring the ocean with robotic jellyfish.
KVH’s sensor products – from fiber optic gyro-based inertial measurement units (IMUs) to entire inertial navigation systems (INSs)– are used in a wide variety of autonomous vehicle systems, providing precision, stabilization, navigation, or guidance whether the vehicle is traveling in two dimensions (on land) or three dimensions (air or sea). For example, KVH IMUs and INSs are used in underwater remote operated vehicles (for research and for mapping the ocean floor); in UAVs and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) for surveillance and patrol missions; and in automated cargo handling equipment in warehouses, to name just a few platforms. As autonomous technology advances, there will be an increasing need for sensors that provide a balance of high performance, affordability, and easy integration—a combination for which KVH’s FOGs, IMUs, and INSs are already known.
With the promise of autonomous platforms doing dangerous and difficult tasks safely and efficiently – saving time, money, and lives – what task would you like to see accomplished autonomously? How helpful do you think autonomous applications will be to you?