IARC Mission 4: 2001-2008
The 4th Mission involved demonstration of fully autonomous flight over a large area in an attempt to perform a mission that fits into three scenarios. Each example is of interest to a different potential user, however the behaviors required are identical for each mission example.
Mission Example No. 1 — Hostage Rescue
Darkness is upon the face of the deep as a breeze moves silently over the surface of the waters. Suddenly a periscope is thrust through the still boundary that divides the waters from heavens. Low on the horizon are the twinkling lights of a coastal city. In that city lies an embassy in which the diplomatic staff is being detained by a terrorist group known as the "Independent Anarchist Rebel Coalition".
The periscope scans the dark surface for vessels— none are detected. Soon, the Spesialkommando Elite Assault League 6 (SEAL-6) will deploy from the submarine to take control of the embassy and free the hostages. First however, an aerial sensor probe will be launched from the submarine to determine how many terrorists are guarding the hostages. The submarine lies three kilometers from the city in deep water. The embassy is near the waterfront and is identifiable by two great lights illuminating the national seal over the main entrance which is an image in the likeness of a circle with a cross at the center. Because this incident is occurring in a tropical third world nation, the embassy will have some of its windows open to the evening air.
Your mission is to have an autonomous aerial robot carry sensors from the location of the submarine to the embassy, and then covertly enter the embassy to provide a picture of the hostages and their captors that can be viewed back on the submarine. This information must be obtained as quickly as possible so that SEAL-6 will know the location and size of the threat before a rescue attempt is made. The reconnaissance mission must be completed within 15 minutes of launch from the submarine in order to maintain the element of surprise.
Mission Example No. 2 — Nuclear Disaster
April 26, 1:23:44 hrs Greenwich mean time. Let there be light: and there was light. A great fire ball illuminates the night followed seconds later by the sound of a thunderous explosion. A catastrophe of unknown cause or extent has occurred in Unit #4 of the Ukrainistan nuclear reactor complex. All that is seen now is the dull red glow of burning graphite from the KMBR-1000 reactor.
There are no survivors within the facility. Radioactive elements of Iodine-131, Cesium-137, and Strontium-90 are present in lethal levels. A safe distance for human investigative teams has been determined to be no closer than three kilometers. Units #1 and #3 have apparently shut down automatically, but Unit #2 is still operating, possibly due to a fault in the control system that makes the emergency shutdown unable to function. Long distance aerial photography indicates that the overpressure from the explosion has blown out all windows in the facility.
Your mission is to have an autonomous aerial robot carry sensors from a safe location (three kilometers distant from the complex) to the control room of Unit #2 which is identifiable by two great lights illuminating the Ukrainistani national seal over the main entrance. The seal is an image in the likeness of crossed swords within a circle. Sensors must enter the control room to provide a picture of the main control panel gauges and switch positions so experts can see why Unit #2 has not shut down and assess the potential for a meltdown of this unit. The reconnaissance mission must be completed within 15 minutes of launch from the three kilometer safety perimeter due to expected radiation-induced failures within the aerial robot's systems.
Mission Example No. 3 — Biological Emergency
During archaeological excavations near Athena Greco, a necropolis dating back to 425 BC was discovered containing seven mausoleums. Each mausoleum consisted of several catacomb-like chambers. Only two of the mausoleum buildings remain intact. Soon after the discovery, the archaeologists fell ill, at first with strong fevers accompanied by redness and burning of the eyes, followed by vomiting of blood. Within one hour, victims' skin became severely ulcerated and bleeding was observed from all openings of the body. No personnel having direct contact with the site have survived longer than 4 hours.
A team from the CDZ and the US Army Medical Research Academy for Infectious Disease (USAMRAID) set up a field laboratory where they determined the cause of the epidemic to be a new strain of the Ebola virus. Dr. Jackson Gilbertman of the CDZ in Atlanta has reported that this is the most lethal strain of the virus investigated to date. In an interview earlier this week, Dr. Gilbertman stated that, "This is not really a new mutated strain of Ebola, but most likely an ancient strain that has been locked away in the Athenan tombs for almost twenty five hundred years."
What is most disconcerting, is the finding that this "new" (ancient) strain, dubbed "Ebola-A425", exhibits increasing evidence for possible airborne transmission. According to Dr. Gilbertman, "Researchers from USAMRAID have done formal aerosol experiments in which as little as 400 plague-forming units of Ebola-A425 caused a fatal disease in monkeys within four to five hours. All exposed monkeys developed Ebola-related pneumonia, and virus particles were found in many different areas of the respiratory system."
No one who entered the mausoleum chambers remains alive. A three kilometer quarantine radius around the site has been ordered by the government. In order to contain the outbreak, no one is allowed to enter or leave this perimeter. National Guard units from the Greco Ministry of Defense have been sent to the quarantine zone to suppress rioting that is on-going in the villages of Phaetalos and Necros which reside just inside the perimeter. The Greco government has appealed through the United Federation of Nations for assistance in eradicating the threat by disinfecting the surface of the earth around the site through the use of a controlled fuel-air explosion, however the overpressure of the blast will destroy the mausoleum and its burial chambers. As recounted in a final transmission from the archaeological team prior to the sudden and violent death of its members, valuable and undocumented inscriptions on a hanging tapestry are contained over the most prominent sepulcher within one of the interior chambers. Above the entrance to the mausoleum containing the tapestry is the symbol for the sun god 'Ar' with rays pointing to the cardinal points and inscribed within the circle of life. Two great lights were set in place by the archaeologists to illuminate the front of this particular mausoleum for night excavations, and these are known to be operating still.
Your mission is to have an autonomous aerial robot carry sensors from the three kilometer perimeter into the mausoleum where it will locate the tapestry and relay pictures of the inscriptions back to scientists for analysis and translation. Because of delays in obtaining approval to conduct this mission, the reconnaissance run must be completed within 15 minutes of launch from the three kilometer safety perimeter due to the scheduled purifying explosion.
- ABES Engineering College: Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India
- Army Institute of Technology & University of Pune: Pune, Maharashtra, India
- California State University, Northridge: Northridge, California, United States
- Delhi College of Engineering, University of Delhi: Shahbad Daulatpur, Delhi, India
- DeVry Calgary: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
- École de Technologie Supérieure: Montréal, Quebec, Canada
- Georgia Institute of Technology: Atlanta, Georgia, United States
- LeTourneau University: Longview, Texas, United States
- Mesa State College: Grand Junction, Colorado, United States
- North Carolina State University: Releigh, North Carolina, United States
- Ohio State University: Columbus, Ohio, United States
- Pima Community College: Tucson, Arizona, United States
- Purdue University: West Lafayette, Indiana, United States
- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States
- Simon Fraser University: Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
- South Dakota School of Mines and Technology: Rapid City, South Dakota, United States
- Southern Polytechnic State University: Marietta, Georgia, United States
- University of Alabama in Huntsville: Huntsville, Alabama, United States
- University of Arizona: Tucson, Arizona, United States
- University of Calgary: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
- University of Central Florida: Orlando, Florida, United States
- University of Iowa: Des Moines, Iowa, United States
- University of New Mexico: Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
- University of Ottawa: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
- University of Texas at Austin: Austin, Texas, United States
- University of Waterloo: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: Blacksburg, Virginia, United States
Finalists went Head-to-Head in the World’s Premier Aerial Robotics Competition as $80,000 was awarded in a ceremony held at Ft. Benning, Georgia
The 18th annual AUVSI International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC) was conducted from 28 July to 1 August 2008 at Ft. Benning’s (Georgia) McKenna MOUT site, which is a special facility having a complete uninhabited village for use in urban warfare games. This particular venue was important to the 4th IARC mission which involved interaction of the aerial robots with buildings (finding, identifying, entering, relaying of information from within). Teams from as far away as India joined others from Canada and the USA at Ft. Benning Georgia to compete in AUVSI's longest running and most challenging robotics event. Collegiate teams built flying robots that are completely autonomous and had to fly a 3km ingress path (Level 1) to find a city where a particular building will be identified along with its openings (Level 2). The aerial robots then had to select an opening and either fly into the building or send in an autonomous sensor probe to search for a particular target and send pictures of the target back 3km to the starting point (Level 3). Level 4 put all of these autonomous aerial robotics behaviors together to perform the entire mission seamlessly in under 15 minutes (see mission description in the Official Rules).
All levels of our 4th Mission were accomplished independently and sequentially, but in the end, time ran out for the teams before they could demonstrate all of the levels contiguously in under 15 minutes (the requirement for "winner take all"), so the $80,000 in accumulated prize monies over the past 8 years was distributed by the Judges as follows (based on demonstrated performance):
SUMMARY OF AWARDS TO IARC 4th MISSION FINALISTS:ABES Engineering College: $1200
California State University - Northridge: $2200
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University/DeVry University: $12200
Georgia Institute of Technology: $27700 and Most Innovative System (1)
Pima Community College: $5200
South Dakota School of Mines & Technology: $8200 and Best Paper, Best T-Shirt, and Most Innovative Ststem (2)
Southern Polytechnic Institute & State University: $1200
University of Arizona: $1200
University of Waterloo: $3200 and Best Vehicle
Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University: $17700 and Most Innovative System (3)
Sponsors for the 2008 IARC were AUVSI (Prize money, logistics, insurance), the JAUS Program Office (logistics), with contributions from the Columbus AUVSI Chapter (toward the Team Banquet), and NovAtel (on site GPS field engineering). The host for the 2008 event was the U.S. Army, Ft. Benning Soldier Battle Lab. The volunteering judges are UAV experts-- Aaron Kahn, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory; Don Lacey, retired Air Force, DARPA, and Raytheon Corp.; Ken Thurman, retired Air Force and currently President of Aware Concepts. The organizer of the event is Prof. Robert C. Michelson, a past President of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International and originator of the IARC. He is Principal Research Engineer Emeritus at the Georgia Tech Research Institute and President of Millennial Vision, LLC.