Challenges for Deployment Man-Portable Robots into Hostile Environments
SPACE AND NAVAL WARFARE SYSTEMS CENTER SAN DIEGO CA
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The Man Portable Robotic System MPRS project objective was to build and deliver hardened robotic systems to the U.S. Armys 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, New York. The systems, specifically designed for tunnel and sewer reconnaissance, were equipped with visual and audio sensors that allowed the Army engineers to detect trip wires and booby traps before personnel entered a potentially hostile environment. The greatest challenges for the project stemmed from the users three main requirements 1 man-portable lightweight and small, 2 waterproof not just water-resistant, and 3 soldier proof high rugged and reliable. The MPRS systems were, of course plagued by the usual problems in robotics limited battery power run-time and limited communications range. At the Armys request, the systems incorporated no autonomous functionality however, MPRS did integrate several state-of-the-art components, including a fully digital video system. This paper discusses specific challenges encountered and lessons learned by the MPRS team during recent tunnel and sewer reconnaissance testing at three sites in 2000 Fort Drum New York, Fort Leonard Wood Missouri, and Fort Pol louisiana.