USE Network launch I UAV Works VALAQ l Cable harnesses l USVs insight l Xponential 2020 update l MARIN AUV l Suter Industries TOA 288 l Vitirover l AI systems l Vtrus ABI

92 D eveloping an unmanned vehicle for any specialised application can be very challenging, especially when trying to create one for use indoors. Factories, warehouses, and so on are one of the fastest- growing sectors for unmanned system developers, but their ceilings block out GNSS signals, so GNSS-based localisation and positioning do not work. US company Vtrus has therefore spent the past two-and-a-half years researching and developing an unmanned system aimed at tackling this issue. The company says it can best be met by a solution that covers every possible navigation requirement, one that minimises the engineering needed to tailor a vehicle to a desired workflow. “Our particular focus, on developing advanced computer vision, has resulted in a technology that we believe can enable easy implementation of indoor mobile robots – on the ground and in the air. During these times of the Covid-19 pandemic, this is more important than ever,” says Vtrus’ chief design officer (CDO) Carlos R Sanchez. The technology is called Autonomy Brain Implant (ABI), which Sanchez likens to a ‘head’ that can be mounted on different vehicle ‘bodies’ to process all the data inputs needed to output commands for operational planning, perception and control. “We’ve designed the ABI to be a modular vehicle hub, with an emphasis throughout development to separate the functions relating unmanned vehicles’ ‘brains’ from their ‘bodies’,” he explains. “Many companies spend upwards of two years and hire teams of scientists to divide their focus between individual components across an entire indoor mobile robotics system – one team focuses on path planning, another on localisation, and so on. That split in focus, and the fact that the different teams are competing for resources, means corporate robotic programmes rarely mature to the in-field testability phase, which is where the real-world lessons need to be learned.” Vtrus’ goal was to make a system that combines perception planning and controls in one stack (in both hardware Rory Jackson reports on the development of an unmanned vehicle hub that can work in the GNSS-denied environments of indoor facilities Head start June/July 2020 | Unmanned Systems Technology