Autonomy and Robotic Systems Center Overview

Unmanned and automated systems are increasingly becoming a part of human life, fueled in large part by staggering advances in sensors and computation. Automation and robotics have transformed many sectors of manufacturing, logistics, and transportation. Driver-assisted and self-driving cars will likely be a reality for many commuters in the US in the near future. Unmanned vehicles on the ground, in the air, and under water are changing the way we grow food, fight wars, and explore the oceans.
Today, most of these unmanned systems require one or several dedicated human operators for command, control, and interpretation of sensor data. To provide stronger utility, these systems must demonstrate increased autonomy to actively assist humans in complex tasks with minimal manual control and supervision. Achieving this autonomy will require significant advances in sensor data processing and high-level perception, dynamic task and mission planning, human-machine interfaces, and platform mobility and effectiveness.  Underwater unmanned systems have very limited communication bandwidth and long endurance missions, requiring advances in autonomy as well as platform propulsion and efficiency. Localization and mapping are important functions for land and airborne autonomous platforms. The Autonomy and Robotics Systems efforts at Beaver Works are actively pursuing collaborations and projects to advance and apply these technologies, demonstrating significant capability enhancements for human-machine
systems in relevant tasks.


The Lab is working with Prof. Sangbae Kim of the MIT MechE Department on his mechanical cheetah platform.  Sangbae’s goal is to build the world’s fastest four-legged autonomous system.  We have an early version of his platform in the autonomous systems lab in J-building at Lincoln Laboratory, and we are upgrading it in a number of ways so that we can use it as a test bed for advanced algorithms and sensors.  Phillip Evans in Group 74 is coordinating development of a couple of line proposals to work on the cheetah.  He could particularly use help in the areas of path planning and navigation, developing the architecture and the algorithms to allow the cheetah to figure out where it is going and how to get there.  Work is ongoing in the materials and sensors area.  If you are interested in putting together a good proposal for the Line, and helping set that world record, feel free to contact Phillip, stop by the autonomous systems lab to see the cheetah, or both.