CRA to build hands-free robotic interface for U.S. Army

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Intelligent-systems developer Charles River Analytics (CRA) has announced a follow-on contract to build a hands-free human-machine interface (HMI) for the U.S. Army. The contract will be in force for two years and is valued at $1 million.

The project -- known as Supervisory HMI Enabling Practical Autonomous Robot Direction, or SHEPARD -- fuses multiple proven robot control technologies to provide a natural and reliable hands-free HMI for soldiers operating in different kinds of environments, some of which can be very challenging.

SHEPARD offers a way of more natural and reliable communication so commanders can issue instructions directly to (UxVs), said Stan German, senior scientist at . "Under the effort, we are building a hands-free HMI that combines speech and gestures to enable reliable command and control of multiple unmanned vehicles. SHEPARD will use smart devices -- like a watch -- for easy communication with robots. SHEPARD will reduce the cognitive burden on warfighters and their commanders, increase trust within human-robot teams, and accelerate the adoption of UxVs, helping to remove warfighters from harm’s way."

Example application of Charles River’s gesture recognition technology using stand-off . Image courtesy Charles River Analytics.