DARPA’s Robotic Autonomy in Complex Environments with Resiliency (RACER) program is picking up speed after three teams were selected to go to the starting line last October. The program is focused on advancing off-road autonomy of combat vehicles and seeks to demonstrate the ability of these platforms to travel at speeds that maintain pace with manned combat vehicles in complex terrain typical of that seen in real situations. Awards for Phase 1 were given to Carnegie Mellon University, NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and University of Washington.
The DARPA RACER program’s goal is to develop and demonstrate autonomy technologies that enable unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) to maneuver in unstructured off-road terrain at the limit of the vehicle’s mechanical systems and at, or beyond, human-driven speeds and efficiencies. “RACER is intended to disruptively advance the integration and fielding of autonomy for robotic combat vehicles into the Army, Marine Corps, and Special Forces communities,” said Stuart Young, RACER program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office.
In November, the selected teams received the first of the DARPA-provided RACER Fleet Vehicles (RFVs) – a high performance all-terrain vehicle outfitted with world-class sensing and computational abilities – that they are using to develop platform-based autonomy for testing at upcoming DARPA-hosted field experiments.