The U.S. Army, working with Lockheed Martin, has successfully demonstrated the ability of fully autonomous convoys to operate in urban environments and under difficult conditions. It's all part of the military's ongoing effort to eliminate soldiers from the equation.
The demonstration took place at Fort Hood, and it's part of the Army and Marine Corp's Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System (AMAS) program. The successful test marked the completion of the program's Capabilities Advancement Demonstration (CAD). The AMAS system is aimed at augmenting the safety and security of human drivers in a convoy mission, while the purpose of CAD is to completely eliminate the need for soldiers to occupy and/or drive these vehicles in warzones or other hazardous areas.
During the test, various driverless vehicles — like the Army's M915 truck and a Palletized Loading System (PLS) vehicle — had to navigate hazards and obstacles that a real-world convoy would encounter, such as road intersections, oncoming traffic, stalled and passing vehicles, pedestrians, and traffic circles in both urban and rural test areas.
According to Lockheed, the software and hardware driving the system performed "exactly as designed."
To work, the integrated system uses a high performance LIDAR sensor, a second GPS receiver, and additional algorithms. The system comes in the form a kit that can be installed on virtually any military vehicle. Gotta say, that's impressive.
On the Pentagon side of things, the system was developed by the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC). Given that the word "tank" is in the name, you can probably guess where this technology is eventually going.
"We are very pleased with the results of the demonstration, because it adds substantial weight to the Army's determination to get robotic systems into the hands of the warfighter," noted TARDEC technical manager Bernard Theisen in a statement.
Wow, Lockheed is busy bringing the future to a battlefield near you.