The field of autonomous vehicles is a rapidly growing one, with significant interest from both government and industry sectors. Autonomous vehicles represent the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, combining decision-making with real-time control. Autonomous vehicles are desired for use in search and rescue, urban reconnaissance, mine detonation, supply convoys, and more. The general adage is to use robots for anything dull, dirty, dangerous or dumb. While a great deal of research has been done on autonomous systems, there are only a handful of fielded examples incorporating machine autonomy beyond the level of teleoperation, especially in outdoor/complex environments. In an attempt to assess and understand the current state of the art in autonomous vehicle development, a few areas where unsolved problems remain became clear. This paper outlines those areas and provides suggestions for the focus of science and technology research. The first step in evaluating the current state of autonomous vehicle development was to develop a definition of autonomy. A number of autonomy level classification systems were reviewed. The resulting working definitions and classification schemes used by the authors are summarized in the opening sections of the paper. The remainder of the report discusses current approaches and challenges in decision-making and real-time control for autonomous vehicles. Suggested research focus areas for near-, mid-, and long-term development are also presented.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/julianna_stockton/4/