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API to Continue Autonomous Ground Vehicle Research

August 11, 2006

DARPA awards Phase II contract modification to expand computer vision and machine-learning capabilities.


Cranberry Township, PA -- Applied Perception Inc. (API), a Pittsburgh-based company that develops and licenses robotics-related technologies to market-leading companies in the fields of defense, transportation, and agriculture, announced that it has been awarded a $1.25 million Phase II contract modification from the Information Processing Technology Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the central research and development organization for the Department of Defense. The award was made as part of DARPA's LAGR (Learning for Autonomous Ground Vehicles) program, which aims to develop completely autonomous off-road ground vehicle navigation using machine-learning techniques.

The Phase II modification includes a $1 million award to further develop technologies that API initiated during LAGR Phase I, as well as supplemental $250,000 funding to begin transitioning the work to other DARPA unmanned ground vehicles. During Phase I of the LAGR program, API invented, prototyped, and demonstrated a number of new technologies advancing the current state of the-art in unmanned ground vehicle navigation, including techniques for real-time stereo vision processing, neural net–based terrain evaluation, long-distance perception, and probabilistic approaches for learning vehicle navigation by observing the performance of a human operator. These technologies were evaluated across a variety of terrain on several off-road courses around the country, using test courses designed by DARPA that were kept secret from LAGR program participants. The performance of the system on these courses was measured and scored independently by DARPA personnel.

In addition to continuing the Phase I research efforts, API has also been asked by DARPA to begin transitioning parts of the technology to a 6 ton unmanned ground vehicle prototype being developed by other DARPA contractors. "We are pleased that DARPA selected our effort for Phase II funding and are thrilled that we will transition parts of our LAGR technology to a larger, more capable unmanned ground vehicle", commented Dr. Mark Ollis, the principal investigator for API's LAGR research contract. "The additional resources provided by this award will enable us to broaden our underlying research efforts and to accelerate the transition of this work for use on other military and civilian unmanned ground vehicles."

"Mark and his team did an excellent job during Phase I of this program," said Dr. Todd Jochem, president and founder of API. "I'm pleased that we are able to continue our work on core research that supports our other development and deployment activities. Keeping the technology pipeline full is critical for our continued growth."

About Applied Perception Inc.
Applied Perception was founded in 2001 by graduates of Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute and is focused on developing and licensing unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) related technologies in the fields of defense, transportation, and agriculture. Applied Perception specializes in complete robotic system integration with a focus on computer software and sensors, but also encompassing electrical, mechanical, and communication technologies. These systems feature sophisticated perception, planning, and control capabilities to provide robust solutions to customer-driven problems. Applied Perception provides services and solutions to a wide variety of clients, including Fortune 500 companies, federal and state government agencies, and academic research labs.

For further information, contact Todd Jochem, Perception Inc., at 724-934-8965, x222, or todd@appliedpercption.com; or Lynn Seay, or Kelley Denny, prwerks LLC, at 412-918-0094 or lseay@prwerks or kdenny@prwerks.com.


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