A multidisciplinary framework for mission effectiveness quantification and assessment of micro autonomous systems and technologies

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Mian, Zohaib Tariq
Mavris, Dimitri N.
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Micro Autonomous Systems and Technologies (MAST) is an Army Research Laboratory (ARL) sponsored project based on a consortium of revolutionary academic and industrial research institutions working together to develop new technologies in the field of microelectronics, autonomy, micromechanics and integration. The overarching goal of the MAST consortium is to develop autonomous, multifunctional, and collaborative ensembles of microsystems to enhance small unit tactical situational awareness in urban and complex terrain. Unmanned systems are used to obtain intelligence at the macro level, but there is no real-time intelligence asset at the squad level. MAST seeks to provide that asset. Consequently, multiple integrated MAST heterogeneous platforms (e.g. crawlers, flyers, etc.) working together synergistically as an ensemble shall be capable of autonomously performing a wide spectrum of operational functions based on the latest developments in micro-mechanics, micro-electronics, and power technologies to achieve the desired operational objectives. The design of such vehicles is, by nature, highly constrained in terms of size, weight and power. Technologists are trying to understand the impacts of developing state-of-the-art technologies on the MAST systems while the operators are trying to define strategies and tactics on how to use these systems. These two different perspectives create an integration gap. The operators understand the capabilities needed on the field of deployment but not necessarily the technologies, while the technologists understand the physics of the technologies but not necessarily how they will be deployed, utilized, and operated during a mission. This not only results in a major requirements disconnect, representing the difference of perspectives between soldiers and the researchers, but also demonstrates the lack of quantified means to assess the technology gap in terms of mission requirements. This necessitates the quantification and resolution of the requirements disconnect and technology gap leading to re-definitions of the requirements based on mission scenarios. A research plan, built on a technical approach based on the simultaneous application of decomposition and re-composition or 'Top-down' and 'Bottom-up' approaches, was used for development of a structured and traceable methodology. The developed methodology is implemented through an integrated framework consisting of various decision-making tools, modeling and simulation, and experimental data farming and validation. The major obstacles in the development of the presented framework stemmed from the fact that all MAST technologies are revolutionary in nature, with no available historical data, sizing and synthesis codes or reliable physics-based models. The inherently multidisciplinary, multi-objective and uncertain nature of MAST technologies makes it very difficult to map mission level objectives to measurable engineering metrics. It involves the optimization of multiple disciplines such as Aero, CS/CE, ME, EE, Biology, etc., and of multiple objectives such as mission performance, tactics, vehicle attributes, etc. Furthermore, the concept space is enormous with hundreds of billions of alternatives, and largely includes future technologies with low Technology Readiness Level (TRL) resulting in high uncertainty. The presented framework is a cyber-physical design and analysis suite that combines Warfighter mission needs and expert technologist knowledge with a set of design and optimization tools, models, and experiments in order to provide a quantitative measure of the requirements disconnect and technology gap mentioned above. This quantification provides the basis for re-definitions of the requirements that are realistic in nature and ensure mission success. The research presents the development of this methodology and framework to address the core research objectives. The developed framework was then implemented on two mission scenarios that are of interest to the MAST consortium and Army Research Laboratory, namely, Joppa Urban Dwelling and Black Hawk Down Interior Building Reconnaissance. Results demonstrate the framework’s validity and serve as proof of concept for bridging the requirements disconnect between the Warfighter and the technologists. Billions of alternative MAST vehicles, composed of current and future technologies, were modeled and simulated, as part of a swarm, to evaluate their mission performance. In-depth analyses of the experiments, conducted as part of the research, presents quantitative technology gaps that needs to be addressed by technologist for successful mission completion. Quantitative values for vehicle specifications and systems' Measures of Performance were determined for acceptable level of performance for the given missions. The consolidated results were used for defining mission based requirements of MAST systems.
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