A Software Library for Autonomous Obstacle Field Navigation
Operating unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) in complex or cluttered environments requires advanced guidance and navigation software. This software must quickly reason about and react to the sensed environment without requiring significant computing power.
libOFN is designed to ﬁll the role of route planning in the presence of obstacles, taking into account the dynamic limits of the vehicle. It has been validated in autonomous ﬂight tests by the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Aviation & Missile Center (AvMC) and against near-optimal benchmarks.
Using 3-dimensional sensor readings and a destination waypoint as inputs, libOFN generates a safe trajectory and reacts to newly detected obstacles while ﬂying this plan. In addition to the route planning algorithm, libOFN contains other elements necessary for planning.
These include a terrain representation of known and unknown space as well as a spline-based trajectory generator that accounts for aircraft dynamic limits. A reactive planning module ties these elements together and manages the response to newly sensed obstacles and changes in the environment.
The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Aviation & Missile Center (AvMC) successfully demonstrated low-level autonomous behaviors in a ﬂight over the Diablo Range. This demonstration is critical to the next generation of technological advances in military rotorcraft: obstacle ﬁeld navigation and safe landing area determination.
Terrain sensing, statistical processing, risk assessment, threat avoidance, trajectory generation, and autonomous ﬂight control were performed in real-time during the two-hour test ﬂight. Full news article can be found on the U.S. Army website.