Charles River Analytics Develops Traffic Awareness Component for DARPA’s Unmanned ASW Platform

Charles River Analytics, a developer of intelligent systems solutions, announces a new start to develop a maritime traffic awareness component for an unmanned vessel, as part of the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program. Under ACTUV, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is developing an unmanned surface vessel (USV) that can operate autonomously for months at a time and track a submarine target without direct human control. ACTUV aims to address the growing number of adversaries able to build and operate submarines that could pose a threat to the US and its allies.

As one of several teams selected for ACTUV, Charles River will work to develop a sea traffic situation awareness component, called CROWSNEST, that will use multiple sensors to detect, classify, and track objects, and then build a comprehensive model of the traffic surrounding the ACTUV platform. Charles River is teaming with Metron, Inc. to ensure the system complies with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS). Essentially, it is envisioned that CROWSNEST will allow a USV to avoid collisions and ensure COLREGS compliance, while completing its mission objectives, a significant challenge in today’s cluttered maritime environment.

Mr. Ross Eaton, Senior Scientist at Charles River explained how CROWSNEST could be used in action: “While ACTUV is following a submarine, two boats appear ahead sailing in directions that will cross into ACTUV’s path. COLREGS state that ACTUV should steer to starboard to pass both boats, but ACTUV would then drift too far away and lose track of the submarine. CROWSNEST resolves this issue by identifying potential paths that minimize the risk of collision and COLREGS violation. ACTUV can then select the path that balances collision avoidance and COLREGS compliance against mission objectives and platform capabilities.”

“We are very excited to receive this award from DARPA,” said Ms. Karen Harper, Senior Vice President, Government Services. “Long-duration operations of unmanned vehicles with sparse human intervention poses very real challenges that push the envelope of autonomous behavior, and Charles River is excited to build on our recent efforts to enhance our capabilities in real-time sensor processing and fusion to enable such autonomous operations of unmanned surface and underwater vessels.”

This material is based upon work supported by the SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic under Contract No. N65236-12-C-3836. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic.

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