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Robotics Case Studies

Rugged Mobile Robotic Test Bed Platform for Military Surveillance and Reconnaissance Missions

Sandia National Laboratories

In response to the Department of Defense's Joint Program Office for Unmanned Ground Vehicles' request to develop a prototype of a mobile robotic test bed platform for military surveillance and reconnaissance missions, Sandia's Intelligent Systems and Robotics Center (ISRC) developed SARGE (the Surveillance And Reconnaissance Ground Equipment robot). This prototype enables soldiers in the field to determine the capabilities they need for future unmanned ground vehicles on the battlefield and was the first mobile robotic vehicle to undergo extensive proof-of-concept testing by the US Army and Marines. Most recently, SARGE was extremely successful in the Marines' "urban warrior" mock battle exercises in the spring of 1999. SARGE will continue to be used in evaluating tactics, techniques, and procedures for traversing urban terrain during tactical surveillance and reconnaissance missions.


SARGE is a second-generation refinement of Sandia's DIXIE robot, which has proven to be reliable and easy to operate over hundreds of demonstrations during its six-year life. SARGE was designed as a teleoperated robot for battlefield surveillance applications and includes a mobile robotic base platform, video cameras, a microprocessor control system, and a line-of-sight radio-link communication system.


A follow-on research and development project based on SARGE and a fieldable version of Sandia's Scannerless Range Imager system has resulted in SARGE II. SARGE II is a small exterior mobile robotic development platform with customized imaging optical radar technology that allows fast formation of a range image over a large field of view without the use of an optical scanning subsystem. The Scannerless Range Imager system reduces cost, extends performance, and eliminates the reliability deficiencies of bulkier, power-intensive conventional scanned-range imaging systems. The original SARGE computer architecture was modified on SARGE II to maintain the vehicle control and interface functions in the original design while extending the capability for autonomous control and vision. The goal of this work is to develop a mobile robotic platform that can identify and avoid local obstacles as it traverses from its current location to a specified destination.

Keith Miller
(505) 845-8812
email: akmille@sandia.gov

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