Transportation modes that were human run and controlled could be replaced by machine control in the near term. Though there are various technologies available currently, such as advanced parking systems or navigation systems in ground vehicles that provide driving assistance, the involvement of human is inseparable. There remains a need for the development of next generation technologies that could enable the development of unmanned vehicles, which could make autonomous vehicles in land, air and sea a reality.
Technologies incorporating the functionality of various sensors with high imaging capability have resulted in the development of new sensor fusion technologies that assist the maneuver of unmanned vehicles.
Technological advancements in varied disciplines have transformed the livelihood of mankind. Developments in the fields of electronics and communications in particular have bolstered the deployment of next generation devices across industries. The transformation from desktops to palm-held tablets, wired telephones to Internet calling, and from storage devices to the cloud are some of the many examples. The automotive and transportation industry has also seen humongous transformations in the recent years as well in land, air and sea mediums.
The research report “Innovations in Unmanned Vehicles – Land, Air and Sea” covers some of the many technological innovations that could help in addressing the challenges faced by conventional systems in developing unmanned vehicles. Sensors can be expected to have a major impact in the advancement of unmanned vehicles. Technologies incorporating the functionality of various sensors with high imaging capability have resulted in the development of new sensor fusion technologies that assist the maneuver of unmanned vehicles. Apart from sensors, features such as navigation systems, advanced positioning systems, and digital maps play a critical role in providing directions for unmanned vehicles in land, air, and sea. Lightweight composite materials, which could be suitable for the development of unmanned vehicles able to adhere to harsh environmental conditions, are another area of interest. Also, software processing solutions and processors are some of the key areas that could impact the deployment of unmanned vehicles.
The development of technologies enabling unmanned vehicles has been one of the exciting topics in various research universities and institutes all across the globe. The deployment of unmanned vehicles for military purposes has been encouraged by the heavy funds pumped into research activities by various government bodies. Unmanned vehicles for defense and surveillance purposes can reduce the risk to humans going to perilous and remote localities. Unmanned aerial and surface vehicles can also transit supplies and inventories to military troops in remote locations.
Apart from the military and defense purposes, unmanned vehicles can also find various commercial applications. For example, the unmanned surface vehicles can be used for freight transportation, sea-depth analysis and analysis of life under water for research purposes, under-water mining and gas retrieval purposes and many more. Unmanned aerial vehicles can be deployed for agricultural land surveillance, weather pattern recognition, geographic pattern recognition and various other civilian applications. The unmanned ground vehicles can be deployed for logistics purposes, industrial purposes and passenger transportation.
Just like any new technology, the deployment of unmanned systems for commercial purposes depends upon the systems adherence to the regulatory bodies and rules laid down by such bodies. The critical policy for the unmanned ground vehicles would be to follow the basic automotive vehicles standardization policies to be operated on a road. Legality, privacy and safety concerns, and complying to the road norms are other policies that should be addressed before commercialization. Development of accurate sensing technologies such as LIDAR, radar, and high resolution image sensing are required for the development of unmanned system-enabling technologies such as collision avoidance systems, obstacle detection sensing, 360-degree visibility, long range vision, night vision, self-parking systems, and advanced driver assistance systems. Advanced navigation systems, which provide accurate locations and traffic information, are another critical technology that could accelerate the commercialization of unmanned vehicles for commercial purposes. Similarly for unmanned aerial vehicles, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) plays a key role in providing the license for the deployment of commercial drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles for commercial purposes.
Though unmanned vehicles find applications in military and defense today, continuous research and development could accelerate the commercialization of these vehicles for other sectors. Drones, which are currently used for surveillance purposes, can see widespread commercial adoption for cargo transportation and industrial purposes in the near term. Adoption of unmanned ground vehicles in commercial applications, such as smart cars or self-driven cars, can be expected between 2018 and 2020 due to the many regulations imposed on commercializing them. Military applications of unmanned ground vehicles are already in existence today and could see extensive commercialization by 2018. Similarly, commercial applications of unmanned surface vehicles can be expected in another two to four years. Military applications are currently under development and are expected soon to be commercialized. VS
Jabez Mendelson Research Analyst, Technical Insights, Frost & Sullivan Global Chennai.