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Navy researcher James N. Templeman has developed a system for remotely controlling the movements of a vehicle in response to a remote operator’s actions. The patented technology is available via license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.
Virtual locomotion is movement in a virtual environment controlled by a remote user. Virtual locomotion can be used for a variety of purposes, such as training for combat, navigation through new environments, simulation of vehicle operation and so on. Using virtual locomotion concepts to remotely control an actual vehicle has apparent advantages in a military context, as it allows tactical operations from a safe distance without endangering personnel. Templeman developed a remote vehicle control system that includes an on-board camera for recording and transmitting a video stream of the camera’s view of the physical environment within which the vehicle is operating.
The operator controls the vehicle via a gamepad, one or more joysticks and foot pedals. The incorporated tracker is configured to control the head-pose of the remote vehicle as an open-loop control by providing yaw, pitch, and roll orientation angles as outputs. A processor with a control mapping algorithm and a remote vehicle controller are configured to map the gamepad, and the tracker outputs to control the course, heading, displacement, and head-pose of the remote-controlled vehicle. The remote vehicle controller sends commands to the on-board controls to direct the movement of the remote vehicle and displays the movement of the vehicle to the operator via a head mount or screen.
The remote-controlled vehicle, for example, a tank or armored personnel carrier, may include a turret, with the remote vehicle controller having control over the rotation of the turret while the processor includes control mapping for the turret rotation. Using a gamepad, a joystick may be mapped to provide either a course-offset or a heading-offset. The vehicle may then move in accordance with a computed situated-heading and the head-pose. The system may also include a video rendering component for providing a mono or stereo video image to a head-mountable display or a desk-top monitor display.
- Directional control over heading and course via joystick allows steering, scanning, and oblique movement to be controlled in an open-loop manner
- The ability to control a wide range of natural motions in an easily coordinated manner sets this control mapping apart from other virtual locomotion control mappings
- Businesses can commercialize the technology by licensing U.S. Patent 7,731,588 from the Navy
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