Given the strong interest in autonomous technologies, MITRE has created the Mobile Autonomous Systems Experimentation (MASE) Laboratory to research ways to accelerate the development of advanced autonomous technology and provide objective perspective and recommendations for broad impact in multiple domains, including drones, commercial aircraft, tanks and self-driving vehicles.
The lab’s centerpiece is the MASE Jeep—a commercially available Grand Cherokee augmented for autonomy by an aftermarket vendor and outfitted by MITRE engineers with sensors, analytic and data recorders, and powerful processors. The Jeep provides the opportunity to explore new autonomous technologies and cutting-edge algorithms on a large mobile platform. The lab provides an integrated testing environment for emerging hardware, software, and approaches that will help to inform government sponsors and collaboration partners.
“We have human interaction researchers who are experts at cognitive loading and how to effectively communicate between computers and people,” said Zachary LaCelle, a senior autonomous systems engineer at MITRE, in a statement. “We have cyber experts and autonomy experts working on ground transportation, urban air mobility and defense applications. Our systems thinking mentality accelerates solutions to all of these problems. This broad combination of domain expertise allows us to provide additional, unique perspectives in this cutting-edge challenge area.”
Lab teams develop and evaluate technologies, identify solutions for emerging challenges, and recommend the most promising ones to sponsors and partners. In addition, the lab can demonstrate capabilities to sponsors interested in scenarios where autonomy can be applied. MITRE can build an architecture that makes autonomous modules and hardware easier to mix and match across programs.
“Often, seeing the technology in action spurs additional ideas and conversation,” LaCelle said. “We have the experts available to assist in research integration for people coming to us with specialized questions. We can also test new ideas, prototype them, and transfer them out to industry and other researchers.”