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Recent advances in Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) systems, as well as in the field of unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) systems in general, call for implementation of a drastically new common architecture that would provide for greater interoperability and interchangeability between diverse UGV facilities. Given that the majority of past unmanned systems were developed by sole vendors that imposed their proprietary design software and hardware on their customers, the task of increasing the degree of interoperability between various systems is of utmost importance.
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Hinton, Zeher, Kozlowski & Johannes (2011) provide an overview of the basic features of the Advanced Ordnance Disposal Robotic System (AEORDS) architecture that they propose to utilize in a variety of the UGV systems. They proffer both general theoretical considerations on the system’s configuration and the specific examples of modular architecture that may be used therein.
According to specifications mentioned in the article, the AEORDS family of systems (FoS) rests on the principle of partitioning of various function sets between Capability Modules (CMs) that provide for maintenance of the UGV systems’ interoperability. The CM would generally consist of the mechanical, electrical and logical interfaces that aim at securing the delineated system capabilities. In particular, mobility, manipulator, visual sensors, end-effector, master, and power system CMs are mentioned. Their detailed description is further stipulated in the article (Hinton, Zeher, Kozlowski & Johannes, 2011, pp.259-260). The key component of the CMs family is master CM, as it is responsible for all common system-level services, i.e. configuration and communications management.
With respect to interchangeability provision, the AEORDS FoS supports an innovative adaptor paradigm that makes system extensibility easier than ever. The AEORDS adaptors allow for rapid and effective isolation of any dissimilar or proprietary interfaces from overarching system, as the case may be. At the same time, they make it possible to avoid unnecessary re-designing of legacy systems, as these latter can be integrated into the AEORDS system design with the use of respective adaptors. It is this feature that ostensibly makes AEORDS such an innovative modular architecture model.
The structure of the AEORDS Common Architecture encompasses two primary sub-systems: an OCU (operator control unit) and a UGV. A UGV sub-system encapsulates a determined set of the CMs that are regulated by a master CM, which is commonly designated as Intrasubsystem Network. An OCU component of the AEORDS architecture is connected to its UGV by Intersubsystem Network. The latter regulates the general communication between all AEORDS subsystem. Physically, Intrasubsystem Network is supported by a gigabit-capable Ethernet interface, while Intersubsystem Network operates via Joint Architecture for Unmanned Services (JAUS) protocols. The JAUS standards involve a great number of functional capabilities, including, among others, message transport services, safety services, and a Discovery Service. The utilization of the latter is specifically necessary, as it enables an AEORDS-based system to detect and register all new services and components that appear in the respective distributed network.
That said, Hinton, Zeher, Kozlowski & Johannes (2011) are confident that the implementation of AEORDS FoS would greatly enhance the development of the EOD systems and facilities, by enabling the smaller companies to specialize in particular module or component production. Such development would both contribute to breaking the monopoly held by certain vendors on the EOD robotics market and lead to new advances in mobility engineering.
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