Robot Test Course

As part of Exponent’s on-going research and development efforts in the area of robotics and sensor systems, a dedicated unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) robot test course was constructed at the Test and Engineering Center. The test course specifically aimed to reconstruct the terrain and other maneuverability constraints of the rural desert environment, but today is generalizable to other off-road testing courses for small-to-medium sized vehicles. The 0.7 mile test course consists of a mock Afghan village and many natural terrain features including: open desert, narrow paths, dense foliage, rocky terrain, choke points, and obstacles.

There are eight unique test course sections and two main obstacles (A & B) that comprise the Robot Test Course:

  1. Open road – smooth terrain with low density foliage 
  2. Mock Afghan Village – constructed from salvaged shipping containers and designed to mimic a kala, the classic high-walled compound in which well-to-do rural Afghans live
  3. Well-defined path – smooth terrain with low density foliage
  4. Wooded Area – dense foliage with a well-defined path
  5. Hill ascent/descent – gradual ascent followed by a decent on a rocky hill with open terrain and medium-sized rocks
  6. Graded road – compacted dirt/gravel
  7. Well-defined path – smooth terrain with low-density foliage
  8. Well-defined path – smooth terrain with low-density foliage
    1. Overpass – located in section 7, a culvert is buried beneath a bridge of #8 stone; this represents a choke point in the course
    2. Entry Control Point (ECP) – located in section 1, the ECP consists of a set of interleaved Jersey barriers that force the robot to follow a serpentine path.