US Army Tests Autonomous APD Vehicle

7 June 2010 (Last Updated June 7th, 2010 18:30)

The US Army is conducting developmental and mobility testing for its autonomous platform demonstrator (APD) at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. The APD is a 9.6t, 15ft-long multipurpose hybrid-electric robotic vehicle being developed by the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development

The US Army is conducting developmental and mobility testing for its autonomous platform demonstrator (APD) at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

The APD is a 9.6t, 15ft-long multipurpose hybrid-electric robotic vehicle being developed by the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC).

The six-wheeled vehicle features an autonomous navigation system and a GPS waypoint technology that allows the vehicle to move autonomously at speeds up to 50mph while carrying out various payload missions.

During the mobility tests, scientists will develop the robot's ability to manoeuvre at higher speeds while maintaining extreme terrain-ability at lower speeds.

The advanced suspension systems, thermal and power management systems, robotic safety systems, and lightweight hull technologies are among the list being demonstrated in the tests.

TARDEC senior robotics scientist Jim Overholt said the vehicle had obstacle detection and avoidance technology.

"It uses a variety of sensors and a ladar, a laser / radar scanning radar that can detect moving objects at distances," he said.

The vehicle successfully completed slope and brake testing and is currently undergoing high-speed manoeuvrability tests, including lane changing.

Other mobility characteristics of the robotic vehicle include the ability to climb a 1m step, navigate a 60% slope and pivot turn in place.

The APD is propelled by six in-hub electric motors also features a 4m mast with a sensor ball on top that enables the vehicle to go high and check for possible directions.

TARDEC APD project manager Andrew Kerbrat said APD allows the soldier operator to quickly deploy a mission payload precisely where he wants it, and over some very tough terrain.

"The bottom line is that we are providing the soldier with a significant capability that will assist him in the performance of his mission, while keeping him safer in the process," he said