TORC – Autonomous Vehicle System – Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate

TORC enables engineers to rapidly integrate robotic systems through a suite of modular, customizable products. TORC’s Robotic Building Block products are used by leading academic, commercial and government organizations to shorten the development process, lower costs and mitigate risks. These products have been used on over a hundred mobile robots ranging from 15 pounds to 15 tons. TORC provides solutions for drive-by-wire conversion, emergency stop, power management, autonomous navigation and operator control. The ByWire XGV, a drive-by-wire Hybrid Escape with integrated SafeStop safety and PowerHub distribution systems, provides an integration-ready base platform for autonomous system development. For more information, visit

Robotic Building Blocks, ByWire, SafeStop, PowerHub, AutonoNav and WaySight are trademarks of TORC.

TORC, a leading product provider of modular unmanned systems technology, provided its full line of Robotic Building Blocks for Virginia Tech engineering students to rapidly develop four optionally unmanned, autonomous vehicles.

TORC products make up the key components of the autonomous vehicle kits that were installed on existing platforms to create the four Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate (GUSS) systems.

The Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory worked closely with Virginia Tech and TORC to develop the four GUSS vehicles, which will be used by the Marines during the Warfighting Laboratory’s Enhanced Company Operations experimentation that coincides with the 2010 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) war games in July. The biennial RIMPAC exercises include the participation of 14 nations and approximately 20,000 personnel.

The GUSS vehicles can carry up to 1,800 pounds and move at the speed of a troop on foot, or about five miles per hour. The multi-purpose systems are designed to operate on off-road terrain, day or night in all weather conditions, and will support dismounted troops with point-to-point resupply, thereby reducing the loads manually carried by Marines and providing a means for immediate casualty evacuation.

TORC’s ByWire, SafeStop and PowerHub modules were used in the conversion of the base vehicle to provide the drive-by-wire, wireless emergency stop and power distribution systems. Utilizing existing algorithms developed under previous TORC / VT partnerships such as the DARPA Urban Challenge, a customized version of the AutonoNav (autonomous navigation system) was used to provide the advanced off-road tactical behaviors required to meet the needs of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab. The WaySight (a handheld operator control unit) is used as the primary operator interface for the GUSS vehicles. Using the 1-pound WaySight, dismounted Marines are able to command the vehicles in various modes depending on the missions being executed.

The rapid development and experimentation on the GUSS project was made possible through the use of TORC’s product line. This enabled Virginia Tech engineering students to leverage off-the-shelf technologies and focus on system integration challenges. The entire development process was completed in less than a year, with the first prototype delivered for testing in six months. The additional three vehicles were produced in the next five months to be shipped to the RIMPAC exercises.

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