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Biologically-inspired 'threat monitoring' developed for autonomous vehicles

12 July 2012

Roke Manor Research has developed what it believes is the world’s first threat monitoring system for autonomous vehicles that emulates a mammal’s conditioned fear-response mechanism. The STARTLE system uses a combination of artificial neural network and diagnostic expert systems to continually monitor and assess potential threats.

STARTLE provides enhanced situational awareness and early threat warning to both the autonomous vehicle and to its remote operator(s). Making use of existing hardware, the system intelligently processes information from multiple on-board sensors, cueing systems to assess and confirm potential threats to the vehicle.

Mike Hook, Principal Consultant at Roke, said: “STARTLE reduces operator workload and improves vehicle efficiency on the ground by helping remote operators to respond effectively in complex mission environments. Operators do not want to be distracted from their mission and the time it takes them to turn their attention to a possible threat could be too slow to save the vehicle. 

“STARTLE delivers local autonomy to a vehicle by providing a mechanism for machine situation awareness to efficiently detect and assess potential threats. This allows vehicle sensing and processing resources to be devoted to the assigned task, but if a threat is detected it will cue the other systems to deal with it swiftly before continuing its mission. These vital seconds could be the difference between mission failure and success.”


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