Autonomy, Sensors, Things, Robots and Observations DWG


Botts, Mike (Botts Innovative Research) - Group Chair,
Liang, Steve (University of Calgary) - Group Chair

Group Charter:

Download Charter document

Group Description:

1.    Introduction

This Domain Working Group charter defines the role for OGC activities within the Autonomy, Sensors, Things, Robots and Observations domain and to provide an open forum for the discussion and presentation of interoperability requirements, use cases, pilots, and implementations of OGC Standards in this domain. This Charter is to be presented to the OGC’s Technical and Planning committees for consideration.

Domains are distinct Information Communities that defines a user domain where:

·       A distinct market, application, or business approach exists;

·       Common data definition, structure, syntax, and definitions exists;

·       Common user requirements exist; and/or

·       Common approach to vendors exists .

1.1    Working Group

Operation of OGC Domain Working Group follows the policies and procedures of the Technical Committee.  The following definition from the Technical Policies and Procedures apply to this DWG Charter template.

Domain Working Group: A group (organizationally, a subgroup of the TC) of individuals composed of members of the TC and invited guests, with the specific intent of solving some particular interoperability problem or problems in a particular technology domain for recommendation to the Technical Committee.

Functions of a Domain Working Group are as follows.

  • Provide a forum for discussion and documentation of interoperability requirements for a given information or user community.
  • Provide a forum to discuss and recommend document actions related to Interoperability Program Reports.
  • Develop Change Requests Proposals (CRPs) for existing OGC Standards.
  • Develop engineering reports with the intent seeking approval by the TC for release of these documents as OGC White Papers, Discussion Papers or Best Practices Papers.
  • Informational presentations and discussions about the market use of adopted OGC Standards.
  • Have a formal approved charter that defines the DWGs Scope of Work and estimated timeline for completion of the work.
  • Have all-member voting policies (unless otherwise stated).
  • Have missions and goals defined by the TC.

A DWG Does Not work on Standards submissions, candidate Standards, or revisions to existing OGC Standards. However, a DWG can develop change requests as document interoperability requirements that can then be submitted as work items to a SWG.

A DWG may determine that they wish to have public collaboration, such as in teleconference, email discussions, or a public twiki. In this case, the DWG shall make a motion to the TC to approve public participation in the DWG. Voting in DWGs is by simple majority of OGC Members present at the WG meeting, not just Voting TC Members, with the caveat that no OGC Member organization may cast more than one vote in a WG vote.

2.    Purpose of Working Group

The purpose of this Domain Working Group is to expand the scope of the original Sensor Web Enablement (SWE) DWG to better address advances in sensor-related technologies since its original formation in 2003. These advances have allowed sensing systems to not just measure their environment, but to reason about and interact with that environment. This requires an increased emphasis on sensing systems - systems that combine sensors, actuators, and processing to perform a task or achieve a desired state.

3.    Problem Statement

Since the Sensor Web Enablement (SWE) DWG was chartered in 2003, sensor technology and related infrastructure has made great strides. As a result, issues which were peripheral in 2003 are now front and center. To address these issues, this charter expands the scope of the original SWE DWG.  The issues include the following.


Processing power has increased exponentially over the last 20 years. Today’s least expensive smartphone has far more processing power than a top-of-the-line workstation from 2003. The impact of processing on the sensing architecture needs to be better addressed, particularly when it is part of a measure-evaluate-react cycle.


Internet of Things (IoT) technologies package sensing systems into small, modular components. As a result, sensor systems have become ubiquitous. The vison of pervasive computing has become a reality.


The existing SWE standards do support movement, but not as a primary property of the system. In the early 2000s, sensing systems of that time were either stationary, orbital, or followed a defined flight path. The standards did not have to model a taxi navigating through traffic or the erratic motions of a novice quadcopter pilot. Therefore, the SWG will consider the ramifications of time as a fourth axis. Location in an (x, y, z, t) coordinate system.

Location is not the only form of movement. If a sensing system takes action based on sensor inputs, then the shape of that system may change as well. An articulated device, for example, consists of a number of components with one or more degrees of freedom at their physical connections. The relative location between two components is measured as the relative offset and orientation of the two components as a function of time. This is a concept difficult to express using the existing SWE standards.      


One consequence of these technological advances is that our devices are much more capable of controlling themselves. The “winner” of the 2004 DARPA Autonomous Vehicle Grand Challenge was able to complete 7.3 miles of a 150-mile desert course. Today autonomous vehicles are successfully navigating rush-hour traffic. These vehicles are real-time, safety-critical sensing systems. They bring with them hard performance and resource restrictions which must be met.

Out of This World:

As launch costs drop, there has been an explosion in the number of sensing systems sent into space. Many of these systems are sent to other bodies (planets, moons, asteroids). Others are sent into deep space. This requires true 3D coordinate systems divorced from the Earth geodetic, temporal reference systems divorced from calendars, and accommodation for relativistic effects on space-time.

The ASTRO DWG serves as an information community where users, data and service providers, and technology innovators can convene around cutting-edge research, emerging technologies, proven implementations, and mission/business challenges that require new thinking, innovation, or adaptation.  The ASTRO DWG will also address technical, human capital, and business/mission barriers that need to be overcome, and the role the OGC will need to take, and the and level of involvement and leadership OGC will need to provide to establish a set of processes, activities, and organizational approaches whereby the ASTRO DWG community can, through the OGC, come together to develop a common means for digitally representing and sharing domain related geospatial data, and for processing interoperability within mainstream information system environments.

4.    Charter

The ASTRO DWG is focused on convening the broadest, most diverse and inclusive stakeholders from across the communities grappling with Autonomy, Sensors, Things, Robots, and Observations (ASTRO). This includes sensor observations and measurements collected by all such platforms across space, air, marine, and (under)ground environments in order to advance the cause of interoperability.

4.1    Key Activities.

The ASTRO DWG intends to undertake the following key activities.

  • Present and discuss the frontiers of research, innovation, application, and business and public sector implications of Autonomy, Sensors, Things, Robots and Observation technologies.
  • Determine OGC goals and organizational issues that impact Autonomy, Sensors, Things, Robots and Observation related data, technology and markets.
  • Define the business issues and approaches for OGC to incorporate so that Autonomy, Sensors, Things, Robots and Observation considerations are brought into proper focus with OGC Standards initiatives.  The approach includes defining business objectives, tasks, and schedule.
  • Define approaches for engaging with the Autonomy, Sensors, Things, Robots and Observation community to enlist their support.

4.2    Business Case

The ASTRO DWG is focused on the interoperability challenges that confront the communities wresting with the complex issues surrounding innovations in Sensing System technologies.

Examples of issues that might be discussed include the following.

  • Ensuring consistency in how location and geographic orientation are captured, with precision and accuracy, at the lowest level of these system’s design and manufacture.
  • Providing stakeholders with a consistent taxonomy for describing and understanding how sensed observations of all phenomenologies are interoperably tasked, collected, processed, discovered, and visualized across all manner of space, air, marine, and (under)ground platforms, whether Sensors, Things, or Robots – and whether autonomous or not.
  • Sharing the latest innovations for sensor descriptions, metadata standards, interface standards, and approaches for interoperable data sharing across the ASTRO community.
  • Building a repository of advanced ASTRO processes, models, and processing standards from across the AI, ML, CV, and advanced geoprocessing communities.
  • Developing and sharing means for encoding data quality and accuracy, inclusive of a full accounting of provenance from the original observation through its processing to the point of use.
  • Educating the broader ASTRO community of easy ways to take advantage of OGC interoperability standards, including educating manufacturers about how to embed OGC standards in their packaged devices.   

5.    Organizational Approach and Scope of Work

5.1    Business Goals

The following business goals of the ASTRO DWG frame the type of recommendations that the DWG will make to the wider OGC. They include:

  • Work ASTRO issues and problems that result in a net gain for the varied stakeholder communities;
  • To avoid artificial barriers that limit the potential of all segments of the information community to come together and fully prosper minimize technical distinctions between ASTRO data processing systems that use location/geography,;
  • Avoid placing artificial technical barriers on use of ASTRO devices and their observational  data;
  • Establish the means by which OGC can achieve interoperability and yet preserve the proprietary nature of data and devices; and
  • Define the supporting interoperability infrastructure for the community to achieve these goals.

5.2    Mission and Role

The ASTRO DWG will concern itself with technology and technology policy issues, focusing on the role of location and geospatial-enablement related to Autonomy, Sensors, Things, Robots and Observations and the means by which those issues are appropriately factored into the OGC standards development process.

  • The mission of the ASTRO DWG is to focus on interoperability requirements for Autonomy, Sensors, Things, Robots, and Observations.
  • The role of the ASTRO DWG is to present, refine and focus interoperability-related issues to the Technical Committee and identify potential standardization targets.

5.3    Activities planned

The ASTRO DWG will execute the following scope of work and tasks, complementing existing efforts within the OGC and beyond.

  • The ASTRO DWG will act as an impetus for the creation of whole new modes of operation and economic behavior which will influence the way businesses and governments operate in the realm of autonomy, sensors, things, robots, and observations. The ASTRO DWG will do this by surfacing and discussing emerging technologies, business strategies, public missions, ethical issues, standards and interfaces that must be taken into common consideration across multidisciplinary and fragmented communities, as well as conformance processes pertaining to autonomy, sensors, things, robots, and observations.
  • The objectives of the ASTRO DWG membership are to advance collective understanding and to inform both business strategies and public policy to maximize interoperability across Sensors, Things, and Robots – whether autonomous or not – and the broader world of sensed observations.
  • User communities, both current and potential, will have access to the ASTRO DWG as a forum for sharing and exploring requirements and technology issues around Autonomy, Sensors, Things, Robots, and Observations.
  • The ASTRO DWG will undertake a range of technical tasks to demonstrate the art of the possible when Sensors, Things, and Robots autonomously work together over a common 4D geographic space over time with geographic precision and accuracy.

5.4    Coordination with other OGC Working Groups

Many OGC Working Groups have complementary or even overlapping areas of focus. Given the breadth of technologies necessary to enable/integrate robots, sensors, and more, the ASTRO DWG anticipates coordination with the following Working Groups.

·       IndoorGML SWG – sensor installations and robot navigation in indoor spaces.

·       Moving Features SWG – encoding/tracking of moving object trajectories and orientation.

·       Observations and Measurements SWG – sensor observation fundamentals.

·       SensorThings API SWG – an API for IoT sensor observations and tasking.

·       Sensor Model Language SWG – more complex encoding of sensor data and related command and control.

·       Smart Cities DWG – sensor-enabled infrastructure and operation.

·       Temporal DWG – time aspects of systems and sensors.

·       Uninhabited Systems DWG – these systems collect many elements considered by the ASTRO DWG on a single platform.