Annex E. International Armaments Strategy
Army Science and Technology Master Plan (ASTMP 1997)

1. Next-Generation Autonomous Vehicle Navigation Control System (AUTONAV Project) (Germany)

Description: U.S./German collaborative research program entitled Next Generation Autonomous Navigation System (AUTOVON). The participating research laboratories and their technology contributions to the project are as follows:

-Universitat der Bundeswehr Munchen (UBM), Germany: UBM will produce an advanced autonomous road navigation system with cost effective collision avoidance technology. For a number of years, UBM has been a leader in the European Prometheus program--a program oriented towards the development of commercial highway automation. As part of the Prometheus program, UBM has been developing a sophisticated highway lane-following system using only normal video for sensor input.

-Dornier GmbH, Germany: Dornier will provide advanced off-road obstacle detection and avoidance capabilities using laser radar technology.

-David Sarnoff Research Center (DSRC), Princeton, NJ: DSRC will perform as technical lead in obstacle detection and recognition. DSRC's obstacle detection approach is entered on high definition, area-based recognition technology which, together with UBM's research orientation on feature-based recognition, shows promise of complementary research products that, when combined, will offer significant obstacle detection potential. DSRC contributions will include a faster, low-cost, processing capability allowing faster autonomous speeds of operation.

-National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, MD: NIST will develop a common computer architecture base. The common computer architecture thrust could lead to a standard vehicle controller system supporting technology transfers in a wide range of future developments. The U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) will support NIST with a sensor platform stabilization system and global positioning system/inertial navigation system (GPS/INS) integration to enhance navigation system sensor performance.

Justification: AUTONAV will accelerate progress in existing DoD/Army UGV programs since German researchers hold a lead in the development and implementation of autonomous vehicle control technology. The UBM researchers have been demonstrating autonomous road following since the mid-1980s and autonomous vehicle tracking and following for the past few years. The latter technology could be used for Army convoying applications.

AUTOVON will save U.S. dollars for development of comparable technology. The development of a common baseline controller platform with interface standards has several advantages. In addition to allowing for ease in exchanging developed technologies between the participating research labs, such a control system would provide the DoD/Army with the means of quickly leveraging mature, advanced vehicle navigation control technology from the German research programs, thus accelerating U.S. Army activities in robotic technology applications. AUTOVON will allow the leveraging of developed advanced technology from the project for dual-use applications. Technology transfer from the DoD-sponsored program could also lead to greater progress in automation of commercial vehicles (smart trucks) and support the Department of Transportation (DoT) Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) program.

Implementation: The AUTOVON Project is proposed for Nunn funding as an annex to an existing agreement. The draft AUTOVON annex has been prepared and distributed for final review. OSD and the German MOD have sent a letter to Headquarters U.S. Army Materiel Command encouraging support for this project.


Dr. Rodney Smith
Army Materiel Command
5001 Eisenhower Blvd
Alexandria, VA 22333-0001


Mr. Stephen Cohn
Army Research Laboratory
2800 Powder Mill Road
Adelphi, MD 20783-1197