Communication Capability for a Simulation-Based Test and Evaluation Framework for Autonomous Systems
The design and testing process for collaborative autonomous systems can be extremely complex and time-consuming, so it is advantageous to begin testing early in the design. A Test & Evaluation (T&E) Framework was previously developed to enable the testing of autonomous software at various levels of mixed reality. The Framework assumes a modular approach to autonomous software development, which introduces the possibility that components are not in the same stage of development. The T&E
... t. The T&E Framework allows testing to begin early in a simulated environment, with the autonomous software methodically migrating from virtual to augmented to physical environments as component development advances. This thesis extends the previous work to include a communication layer allowing collaborative autonomous systems to communicate with each other and with a virtual environment. Traversing through the virtuality-reality spectrum results in different communication needs for collaborative autonomous systems, namely the use of different communication protocols at each level of the spectrum. For example, testing in a fully simulated environment might be on a single processor or allow wired communication if distributed to different computing platforms. Alternatively, testing in a fully physical environment imposes the need for wireless communication. However, an augmented environment may require the concurrent use of multiple protocols. This research extends the Test & Evaluation Framework by developing a heterogeneous communication layer to facilitate the implementation and testing of collaborative autonomous systems throughout various levels of the virtuality-reality spectrum. The communication layer presented in this thesis allows developers of the core autonomous software to be shielded from the configuration of communication needs, with changes to the communication environment not resulting in changes to the autonomous software.