US-based intelligent systems solutions developer Charles River Analytics has been contracted to develop a hands-free human-machine interface (HMI) for soldiers.
Awarded by the US Army, the two-year, follow-on $1m contract is part of the Supervisory HMI Enabling Practical Autonomous Robot Direction (SHEPARD) effort proposed by the company.
The SHEPARD programme seeks to combine several robot control technologies to offer a natural and reliable hands-free HMI for soldiers operating in various environments and keep them safe.
Currently, the latest unmanned vehicle (UxV) systems need active remote control or teleoperation, where a commander orders a trained human operator to remotely control the system.
Charles River Analytics senior scientist Stan German said: “Our approach to managing UxVs is in stark contrast with how robot operators currently direct platforms. They use cumbersome, hands-on, head-down controllers.
“Our goal is to develop controls that let robots seamlessly integrate into human teams.”
SHEPARD promotes more reliable communication that enables commanders to issue instructions directly to the vehicles. This enhances situational awareness and reduces delays.
Currently, Charles River Analytics is developing a hands-free HMI that combines speech and gestures to facilitate reliable command and control of multiple UxVs.
SHEPARD is proposing to use smart devices, such as a watch, in order to ensure seamless communication with military robots.
The effort aims to help reduce the cognitive burden on troops and their commanders and speed-up the adoption of UxVs into military operations.