Simulation of unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) components and subsystems are pivotal to their development, however there are few choices for those wishing to perform realistic, end-to-end simulations of UGVs. Developers are generally faced with a choice of high-fidelity "engineering" simulations that lack interactivity, or simplistic "game style" simulations that lack rigorous physics-based modeling capability. Ideally a simulation environment would possess both real-time, high-quality interactivity while also maintaining realistic physical models. A developer would have the ability to easily manipulate parameters of the vehicle model(s), change aspects of the terrain or world model, add or remove sensors or other components, and interactively test the UGV under a variety of conditions.
The Autonomous Navigation and Virtual Environment Laboratory - ANVEL - is a real time simulation software desktop application under development by QS that enables the analysis and testing of autonomous vehicle dynamics, terrain/obstacle interaction, sensors, algorithms, and operation in a virtual world. ANVEL serves as a real-time , desktop interface for the Virtual Autonomous Navigation Environment (VANE), a High Performance Computing (HPC) Computational Testbed (CTB) being developed by the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC). VANE leverages rigorous physics-based vehicle and vehicle-terrain interaction models in conjunction with ANVELs high-quality, multimedia visualization techniques to form an intuitive, accurate engineering tool. ANVEL has been designed from the ground up to take advantage of several key technologies not common to traditional engineering simulators:
- ANVEL leverages technology gleaned from the commercial video-game industry. Video gaming lies at the cutting edge of real-time simulation and display, and it is now well recognized that this can be leveraged to create simulations that are both "engineering accurate" and experientially satisfying while running on inexpensive, COTS hardware.
- ANVEL leverages the ever-expanding offerings of "Open Source Software" (OSS). OSS tools like "OGRE" and "ODE" provide more than simple rapid prototyping - they are excellent, evolving code bases upon which to develop and grow ANVEL.
VANE not only uses HPC resources but also, via ANVEL, provides interactive, real time rendering of complex environments & vehicle models and provides realistic terrain interaction and object dynamics under an intuitive, consistent user interface. The system provides a highly adaptable and customizable simulation capability that allows developers a controlled, repeatable testbed for advanced simulations.