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4D/RCS Version 2.0: A Reference Model Architecture for Unmanned Vehicle Systems



James S. Albus, Hui-Min Huang, Elena R. Messina, Karl Murphy, Maris Juberts, Alberto Lacaze, Stephen B. Balakirsky, Michael O. Shneier, Tsai H. Hong, Harry A. Scott, Frederick M. Proctor, William P. Shackleford, John L. Michaloski, Albert J. Wavering, Thomas Kramer, Nicholas Dagalakis, William G. Rippey, Keith A. Stouffer, Steven Legowik


The 4D/RCS architecture provides a reference model for military unmanned vehicles on how their software components should be identified, organized, and interacting such that missions, especially those involving unknown or hostile environments, can be analyzed, decomposed, distributed, planned, and executed intelligently, effectively, efficiently and in coordination. To achieve this, the 4D/RCS reference model provides well defined and highly coordinated sensory processing, knowledge management, cost and benefit analysis, and behavior generation functions, as well as the associated interfaces, that are based on proven scientific principles and are consistent with military hierarchical command structures. The 4D/RCS reference model architecture is naturally adaptable to the DoD/Army standards in a combined domain of vehicle systems, combat support, and software engineering. 4D/RCS provides an architectural framework to facilitate component and interface standards development, including command and control, sensors, communication, mapping, operating environments, safety, security, software engineering, user interface, data interchange, and graphics. As such, the 4D/RCS reference model architecture forms a standard based architectural framework.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 6910
Report Number


Intelligent Systems, Mobile Robots, Performance Evaluation, Performance Metrics, Robotics, Robotics Search and Rescue, Testbeds


Albus, J. , Huang, H. , Messina, E. , Murphy, K. , Juberts, M. , Lacaze, A. , Balakirsky, S. , Shneier, M. , Hong, T. , Scott, H. , Proctor, F. , Shackleford, W. , Michaloski, J. , Wavering, A. , Kramer, T. , Dagalakis, N. , Rippey, W. , Stouffer, K. and Legowik, S. (2002), 4D/RCS Version 2.0: A Reference Model Architecture for Unmanned Vehicle Systems, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online],, (Accessed May 28, 2024)


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Created August 21, 2002, Updated October 12, 2021