IDF, through the Department of Production and Procurement in the Ministry Of Defense, purchased Coganta’s simulator, which simulate terrain driving. IDF will use the simulator to validate and train autonomous driving algorithms, as part of the development of autonomous vehicles (AV) and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) for military usage.
Coganta’s AV Off-road simulator is a new platform, intended for training and testing of autonomous vehicles driving in difficult terrain conditions on unpaved roads, to include military vehicles such as unmanned tools and remotely operated vehicles (ROV). The system simulates many scenarios, to include off-road driving on unpaved roads, narrow trails, steep slopes, muddy or sandy ground, as well as obstacles along the path such as rocks or vegetation, and driving in poor visibility conditions like darkness or limited view angles.
Simulating terrain driving features complex challenges. Unlike public road, where the driving route is clear and regulated, in maneuvering in rough terrain the AV need to consistently estimate the possible route without rolling over or encountering an impassable obstacle. Shay Rootman, Director of Business Development at Coganta, explains to Techtime that the main challenge is simulating the physic of the rough terrain driving: “In the field, there are no predefined driving outlines. One of the major physical aspects that have to be taken into account in rough terrain driving is the friction generated between ground and road conditions and between the autonomous vehicle – whether it is muddy, sandy or bumpy ground. The vehicles have to get pretty good estimation of the road conditions in order to adjust the speed and the angle of its approach and whether the obstacle in front is passable”.
In recent years, using unmanned military vehicles became more and more common in military forces around the world. It is mainly used for reconnaissance missions, mine clearance and lanes opening in situations where human’s presence might be dangerous. For example, the US Army develops autonomous transport trucks that can move independently in a convoy.
In addition, Israeli defense companies are also investing in developing autonomous vehicles in the recent years. The Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) develops a variety of combat instruments such as autonomous robotic patrol for detecting and evacuating Improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and autonomous bulldozers for carrying out complex Combat Engineering missions in threatened areas. Elbit also started in recent years to develop unmanned vehicles to be used in routine security missions. In 2016, together with the IDF, the company has developed the “Border Keeper”, spanned along the Gaza Strip border and the border with Egypt.
“The military autonomous robotics area is boosting. When we started to work with the IDF and the Ministry of Defense, we noticed that simulators are required in AV world in the same way it required in the civil AV world”, says Rootman.
Coganta’s flagship product is a simulator system for training and testing autonomous vehicles. The simulator generates realistic imaging of complete cities – to include streets, trees, road obstacles, cars, human beings and more. It also generates information derived from various sensors such as cameras, infra-red systems and LiDAR. The system allows for generation of multiple scenarios and using it shortens the R&D and verification processes schedules and reduce the number of test drives. In recent years Coganta developed simulators for different types of AV’s such as agricultural tools, mining logistic tools and vehicles intended for rough terrain transportation.