Unmanned Systems

Unmanned Systems

Vision Statement

To be a leader in innovative and advanced research for unmanned systems, spanning from basic research to advanced prototypes and test and evaluation.
Learn about our core competencies »

Autonomy and Collaborative Control

Collaborative Unmanned Systems

GTRI’s fleet of five tactical UAVs perform on-board signal processing and execute collaborative autonomous behaviors. Multi-UAV formation flying has been demonstrated, and cooperative ISR missions have been conducted.

Heterogeneous Collaborative Control

GTRI’s UAVs collaborate with UGVs for air-to-ground teaming in support of target detection, surveillance, and distributed task allocation. The heterogeneous team of vehicles autonomously collaborates to execute complex missions.

Multi-Robot Patrolling

In multi-robot patrolling, robots cooperatively and repeatedly patrol environments. GTRI has developed robots that observe the performance and reliability of other robots and dynamically adjust task assignments for improved efficiency. Demonstrations have included ground robots that can detect an airborne intruder that penetrates an established perimeter.

Unmanned Underwater Vehicles

GTRI’s Yellowfin autonomous underwater vehicle is a next-generation compact, lightweight, man-portable, A-Size vehicle designed for coastal operations up to 100m depth. Yellowfin can be configured to include a variety of payloads to meet unique maritime autonomous mission requirements.

UCS Service Development

GTRI is a leader in the development of UAS Control Segment (UCS) services for unmanned vehicles. UCS is based on Service-Oriented Architecture principles, where service interfaces use a common data model. GTRI is developing extensions to support control for multiple, disparate programs across an expanse of scenarios.

Common Standards and Protocols

GTRI recognizes that standardization and commonality are key to affordability and multi-platform interoperability. GTRI uses standard protocols such as JAUS and STANAG-4586 to facilitate the rapid integration of unmanned systems technology components.

Agricultural and Industrial Robotics

Knowledge-Driven Agile Manufacturing Systems

GTRI is coupling knowledge systems such as ontologies and real-time dynamic databases with domain-independent planning to provide manufacturing systems with unprecedented agility and flexibility. GTRI’s prototype kitting application can build multiple kit varieties in a fixtureless work cell, providing a flexible assembly process.


GTRI researchers are collaborating with the University of Georgia to integrate a low-cost robot arm onto an unmanned tractor for autonomous crop inspection. The robot arm is lightweight and flexible and incorporates advanced control to compensate for mechanical imprecision in the unstructured environment of a crop field.

3D Vision and Control of Unmanned Systems

GTRI researchers are advancing visual servoing technologies to guide a robot arm to a prescribed pose with respect to a feature of interest (e.g., a window opening) and to provide a more intuitive user interface for finding and manipulating a discovered object. Experiments for peering inside constricted openings have been conducted. By using visual servoing, GTRI has attained a fourfold increase in speed compared to joint-based control methods.

Hardware Systems Development and Testing

GTRI Airborne Unmanned Sensor System (GAUSS)

GTRI is developing ISR payloads for tactical UAVs, including multi-channel radar (DMTI, GMTI, SAR, HRR, CCD), multi-channel SIGINT (RF signal detection and geo-location), a stabilized EO/IR camera gimbal, and a multi-terabyte onboard data recorder. GAUSS is a low-cost test bed for new ISR hardware and UAV autonomy algorithms and for conducting acquisition experimentation.

GTRI Threat Unmanned Devices

The military must be prepared to counter surveillance technologies aboard hostile unmanned aircraft. GTRI is developing integrated devices that simulate foreign UAVs. The technology produced by GTRI as part of its Threat Unmanned Devices Program uses a Diamond DA40 aircraft to simulate the capabilities on a foreign unmanned aerial vehicle.

Distributed and Heterogeneous Systems

Distributed Perception in Heterogeneous Unmanned Systems Teams

GTRI is developing collaborative perception algorithms for teams of heterogeneous unmanned systems with multiple sensors, different sensing modalities, and disparate mobility capabilities. These perception algorithms enable teams to share information and execute collaborative tasks despite differences in platform functionality. The fusion of information from heterogeneous assets creates an improved shared situational awareness for autonomous systems or for collaboration with operators.

Heterogeneous UAV Networked Team for Electronic Warfare

GTRI is researching the use of small, cooperative, tactical UAVs for EW campaigns. The research focus is to develop a network of distributed, autonomous, and adaptive UAVs. Simulations indicate such a capability would be difficult to counter.

Social Robotics


As robots leave the laboratory and enter the human social milieu, they need algorithms for social interactions. Representations must support reasoning about situations and incorporate not just the robot’s goals, but also the effect that interactions have on the robot’s interactive partners. An understanding of trust is crucial. GTRI is developing methodologies to conceptualize trust to allow a robot to reason about situations in which it must trust a person or in which a person must trust it.


GTRI has been investigating the use of stereotypes by robots, where robots record information about action preferences for different individuals with whom they interact. Examples include search and rescue, where firefighters and police may need to interact with rescue robots. The robots observe individuals’ actions during the disaster and identify distinguishing perceptual features for robotic stereotyping.