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US Army and Lockheed Martin complete advanced autonomous convoy demonstration

Notional implementation of AMAS kits on a medium tactical vehicle. Source: TARDEC. Click to enlarge.

The US Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and Lockheed Martin recently demonstrated the ability of fully autonomous convoys to operate in urban environments with multiple vehicles of different models. The test involved driverless tactical vehicles navigating hazards and obstacles such as road intersections, oncoming traffic, stalled and passing vehicles, pedestrians and traffic circles in both urban and rural test areas.

The demonstration in January at Boaz Military Operations and Urban Terrain Site in Fort Hood, Texas was part of the Army and Marine Corps’ Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System (AMAS) program, and marked the completion of the program’s Capabilities Advancement Demonstration (CAD). The AMAS hardware and software are designed to automate the driving task on current tactical vehicles.

The demonstration was a collaborative effort between the US Central Command, Army Capabilities Integration Center, Combined Arms Support Command, 3rd Cavalry Regiment and TARDEC.

AMAS seeks to provide optionally manned capabilities to (1) reduce major accidents due to driver error resulting from very long convoy missions coupled with difficult terrain and inexperienced drivers; and (2) reduce susceptibility to attack.

AMAS is to provide scalable autonomy in a single solution, agnostic of vehicle. AMAS, as integrated into ground vehicles, has two major components:

  1. A By-Wire/Active Safety kit to control the physical actuation of a vehicle. This kit is unique to each type of vehicle platform, based on differing hardware requirements.

  2. A common, appliqué Autonomy kit that will contain the primary intelligence and autonomous decision making. This Autonomy kit, comprising elements such as a high performance LIDAR sensor, a second GPS receiver and a dedicated computer, would be common across all vehicle platforms, designed to function and inter-operate regardless of type of vehicle platform.

AMAS components. Source: Lockheed Martin. Click to enlarge.

In the CAD demonstration, the Autonomy kit was integrated onto the Army’s M915 trucks and the Palletized Loading System (PLS) vehicle.

AMAS is intended to support scalable levels of automation. Source: Booz Allen Hamilton. Click to enlarge.

The AMAS CAD was jointly funded by the Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) and Lockheed Martin. While the AMAS JCTD is aimed at augmenting the safety and security of human drivers in a convoy mission, the CAD was aimed at completely removing the soldier or marine from the cab.



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