US DoD adopts Open Source principles for Unmanned Autonomous Vehicle Systems

By on August 21, 2015
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Unmanned vehicles are used extensively across government agencies to achieve varied missions including military, border surveillance, mapping, environmental monitoring, disaster recovery and law enforcement. Much of the core technology used to operate unmanned vehicles, outside specific mission functions, is similar and could be more broadly shared across agency programs to reduce costs, increase efficiency and facilitate innovation. The DoD advocates this approach through the use of Open System Architecture and Better Buying Power acquisition practices.

The use of open source software (OSS) enables government users to most effectively achieve the goals described by the open systems approach. Open source software is software whose license agreement grants the user specific rights to access the human-readable source code and to modify and distribute the software without restriction or requirement to pay license fees.

While these benefits are recognized by government and commercial adopters, no definitive metric has been defined within the government’s acquisition community so accurate and consistent comparisons can be made between competing “open and propriety” solutions. It is the intent of this study to identify, document and share information across federal government agencies regarding tangible technical, administrative and economic benefits available through use of open source software technologies, methods and practices for unmanned, remote and autonomous vehicle systems (URAVS).

The study and expected deliverables will be implemented through four (4) complementary tasks over the period of one (1) year. The tasks include: 1) Discovery of open source technologies, methods and practices within existing URAVS; 2) Evaluation and Analysis of data collected through Discovery to be conducted by academic research partners; 3) Outreach to External Resources consisting of open source software development communities engaged in private URAVS development activities; 4) Recommendations and Opportunities (Lessons Learned) report published by the Open Technology Center at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center.

Expected results include identifying common technology usage and sharing results across government URAVS agency programs; identification, documentation, and publishing of data collection and analysis; identification and contact with independent open source URAVS development communities; publishing of Lessons Learned report and facilitation of information sharing and technology transfer across government agencies.

Ultimate goal is to increase technical and administrative efficiency and reduce cost for government URAVS through increased awareness and access to quantitative data regarding open source software technologies.

Participating entities include: U.S. Army, Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center; U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Science & Technology Directorate; Arizona State University; Georgia Tech Research Institute; Hinds Community College; and the Open Source Software Institute.

Additional information available at:

Source: Open Source Unmanned Remote & Autonomous Vehicle Systems Program – Open Technology Center

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