Mobile Autonomous Robotics Technology Initiative (MARTI®) Program

image of an autonomous, driverless, vehicle


In 2006, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) initiated a $5 million internally funded research and development program, entitled the Mobile Autonomous Robotics Technology Initiative (MARTI), to develop unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) technology for the autonomous control of tactical platforms, driverless passenger cars, self-driving commercial trucks, agriculture/construction tractors, and mobile robots.


One of the fundamental aspects of the program was rapid portability of autonomous functionality to multiple vehicle platforms. Emphasis was placed on developing open, scalable, modular, and extensible perception and control algorithms that utilized low-cost commercial-off-the-shelf hardware. MARTI is software, and is based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology NIST 4D/RCS behavior based architecture. Since the completion of the MARTI program, SwRI has ported the MARTI software into the Robot Operating System (ROS) and has it running on various driverless vehicles—commercial and military.

image of autonomous vehicle (UGV) demo in NY

Public Demonstrations of MARTI


The MARTI program resulted in an autonomous vehicle-benchmarking platform whereby SwRI is uniquely suited to rapidly assess sensor and algorithm performance over a wide array of environments, missions, and behaviors. MARTI allows rapid prototyping of various perception and control systems to support development of active safety and automated driving systems. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) leveraged MARTI as the foundation of the Small Unit Mobility Enhancement Technology (SUMET) architecture.

MARTI Program Information

Related Patent

Christopher Mentzer, Manager, (210) 522-4240,