An Interactive, Physics-Based Unmanned Ground Vehicle Simulator Leveraging Open Source Gaming Technology: Progress in the Development and Application of the Virtual Autonomous Navigation Environment (VANE) Desktop
ENGINEER RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER VICKSBURG MS
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It is widely recognized that simulation is pivotal to vehicle development, whether manned or unmanned. There are few dedicated choices, however, for those wishing to perform realistic, end-to-end simulations of unmanned ground vehicles UGVs. The Virtual Autonomous Navigation Environment VANE, under development by US Army Engineer Research and Development Center ERDC, provides such capabilities but utilizes a High Performance Computing HPC Computational Testbed CTB and is not intended for on-line, real-time performance. A product of the VANE HPC research is a real-time desktop simulation application under development by the authors that provides a portal into the HPC environment as well as interaction with wider-scope semi-automated force simulations e.g. OneSAF. This VANE desktop application, dubbed the Autonomous Navigation Virtual Environment Laboratory ANVEL, enables analysis and testing of autonomous vehicle dynamics and terrainobstacle interaction in real-time with the capability to interact within the HPC constructive geo-environmental CTB for high fidelity sensor evaluations. ANVEL leverages rigorous physics-based vehicle and vehicle-terrain interaction models in conjunction with high-quality, multimedia visualization techniques to form an intuitive, accurate engineering tool. The system provides an adaptable and customizable simulation platform that allows developers a controlled, repeatable testbed for advanced simulations. ANVEL leverages several key technologies not common to traditional engineering simulators, including techniques from the commercial video-game industry. These enable ANVEL to run on inexpensive commercial, off-the-shelf COTS hardware. In this paper, the authors describe key aspects of ANVEL and its development, as well as several initial applications of the system.
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