09 Feb 2021
Northstar autonomous navigation system land trials
Since October last year we’ve been developing our Northstar autonomous navigation software to safely navigate an unmanned vehicle across a remote landscape – some miles from its base station.
This development has now progressed to the first stage of land trials using a small unmanned testing vehicle. We’re using the X3, one of the X-series of unmanned autonomous vehicles developed by Digital Concepts Engineering (DCE), used in numerous MOD autonomy trials and with a top speed of 12.4 mph.
The trial will demonstrate how well Northstar works with a suite of tools, such as DCE’s Marionette™ system (a universal control system) used on the X3, to enable a vehicle to operate as we want it to – without human intervention.
It will also show how it can continue to safely navigate an unmanned vehicle in real-time without a GPS signal. This is critical to mission success when operating in remote or challenging environments as GPS is often weak at best, needing direct an line-of-sight communication with GPS satellites to work.
The initial trial has already seen Northstar enable the X3 to plot a course across land the size of a football field and reach an end point without mishap or human intervention.
In achieving this, Northstar showed that it understood what was happening around the X3, using its sensors to ‘sniff out’ its environment and check this against pre-recorded GPS and other available data and maps.
Northstar has enabled the X3 to plot a course and reach an end point without mishap or human intervention.
The next stages will see the trials become more complex both in the pathfinding exercises and obstacle avoidance, as well as demonstrating its ability to control multiple connected autonomous platforms. The trials will extend to other larger vehicles such as a Humvee and this will also form part of the US Department of Defense project that we’re working on to demonstrate how a connected unmanned convoy of vehicles can safely navigate through remote and hostile terrains to deliver critical missions.
Development in the land domain follows Northstar’s success in reaching commercial readiness for the maritime sector and opportunities to use it across different applications including congested ports, research & surveying, environmental disasters and mine sweeping,
Our cutting edge patent pending N* software produces dynamic risk aware optimised path planning for autonomous platforms.
This software can be used effectively to help organisations to successfully achieve three critical functions:
- Discover: Survey; inspect; surveillance
- Deliver: People; supplies; effect
- Plan: Safe and secure autonomous operations
Northstar creates a digital twin of its environment, fusing any known data and updates through sensors, and can respond in real-time to changes in the environment – with interoperability across multiple platforms – to enable safer, efficient and sustainable missions
Possible use cases for Northstar
Watch John Shimell, tpgroup’s Head of Autonomy & Spatial Modelling, talk through the possible use cases for Northstar and its capabilities to support organisations across a range of applications.