RelCon – Safe control of autonomous vehicles

The integrated use of autonomous vehicles and teleoperators should make it possible to respond quickly, flexibly and reliably to variable operational scenarios.

In many civil disaster scenarios - be they avalanches or landslides, tunnel fires or radioactive contamination following a reactor accident - there will be people who urgently need help or need to be evacuated. Yet the (often voluntary) relief workers are frequently hindered or prevented from coming to the rescue, as the act of intervention would expose them to a life-threatening risk.

The KIRAS project SafeCon is aimed at developing a technology for the Austrian Federal Army to make army supply convoys semi-autonomous so as to avoid the loss of human lives in hazardous or dangerous situations. The RelCon (Reliable Control of Semi-Autonomous Platforms) project team will now refine this core technology for autonomous supply convoys to meet the specific requirements of civil disaster scenarios. The intention is to implement the requirements in a simple and inexpensive way, but without compromising on functionality, reliability or safety.

The RelCon project focuses on the integrated use of autonomous vehicles and remote control by teleoperator so as to be able to respond quickly and flexibly to a variety of operational scenarios or conditions. Specifically, the combination of autonomous vehicles and a teleoperator will make it possible to respond appropriately to unexpected events. A robotic system used in a real disaster scenario is expected to respond flexibly to changing and/or unknown conditions and thus prove highly robust in operation. Hence the focus of the RelCon project is on a combination of autonomy and remote control as a means to achieving the high degree of reliability and robustness necessary for use in civil disaster scenarios.

The result should be a novel concept for an autopilot which, in combination with a teleoperator at a remote control station, is able to fulfil the specified mission tasks flexibly, reliably and robustly. The technology to be developed will be designed as an upgrade solution for commercial vehicles which can be appropriately modified by the manufacturer at low cost. Modern vehicles are already equipped with the relevant electronic interfaces (accelerator, engine, gearbox, brakes), which only have to be supplemented (steering wheel) and configured appropriately. This opens up a broad field of application for autonomous technology at little cost or effort.

Facts:

  • Project start: September 2013
  • Project duration: 2 years
  • Funding: the project is funded within the security research support program KIRAS by the Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Innovation und Technologie (federal ministry for transport, innovation and technology)
  • Coordination: FH Technikum Wien
  • Partners: Federal Ministry of Defence and Sports, taurob GmbH, Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Österreich GesmbH, PIDSO - Propagation Ideas & Solutions GmbH