Lockheed Martin and the US Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) have successfully demonstrated the ability of fully autonomous convoys to operate in urban environments with several vehicles of different models.
Carried out at Fort Hood, Texas, US, the demonstration marked the completion of the Army and Marine Corps' Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System (AMAS) programme's capabilities advancement demonstration (CAD).
The test involved unmanned M915 trucks and the palletised loading system (PLS) vehicles navigating an array of hazards and obstacles, including road intersections, oncoming traffic, stalled and passing vehicles, as well as pedestrians and traffic circles in both urban and rural test areas.
Jointly funded by the Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) and Lockheed, the CAD focused on completely removing the soldier from the cab, unlike the AMAS joint capability technology demonstration (JCTD), which was aimed at enhancing the drivers' safety and security in a convoy mission.
Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control AMAS programme manager David Simon said: ''The AMAS CAD hardware and software performed exactly as designed, and dealt successfully with all of the real-world obstacles that a real-world convoy would encounter.''
TARDEC technical manager Bernard Theisen said: ''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.''
Developed as part of a $11m contract awarded in October 2012, the AMAS is a multiplatform kit that incorporates high performance LIDAR sensor, a GPS receiver and additional algorithms onto US Army and Marine Corps tactical vehicles to assist drivers or enable autonomous operation in convoys.
The kit is expected to reduce the dangers of driving in a combat zone by offering the drivers an automated option to alert, stop and adjust, or take full control under user supervision.
Image: The AMAS capabilities advancement demonstration involved unmanned US Army vehicles navigating an array of hazards and obstacles in both urban and rural test areas. Photo: copyright of Lockheed Martin Corporation.