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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2014  12:51:23 PM

TARDEC demos autonomous vehicles

Email   Print   Share By Staff Sgt. Michael Dator, 3rd Cav. Regt. Public Affairs
January 16, 2014 | News
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The Pallet Loading System vehicles reach a speed of 40 miles per hour while traveling in full autonomous mode Tuesday at the ranges on Fort Hood.
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Using IR cameras and a Light Detecting and Ranging system (LIDAR), mounted on top of a vehicle, the autonomous vehicle system gathers a 360-degree image of the vehicles surroundings. Vehicles equipped with the system will be able to either follow another vehicle or conduct a convoy entirely unmanned.
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A “crash-test dummy” moves onto the road in front of the autonomous vehicles Tuesday to test the ability of the system to quickly stop to avoid hazards at the ranges on Fort Hood.
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Pvt. Bodie Daly a truck driver with Regimental Support Squadron “Muleskinner,” 3rd Cavalry Regiment plots a route for the autonomous convoy to travel during a demonstration by Lockheed Martin of the systems at the ranges on Fort Hood. (Photos by Spc. Erik Warren, 3rd Cav. Regt. Public Affairs)
The U.S Army is no stranger to innovation.

In 1946, the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center was formed for the initial purpose of developing efficient tanks that kept Soldiers safe in hostile territory. Over the years, the organization has expanded its research into the fields of engineering and ground based systems and now stands as a quiet leader in innovation and technology.

Advances in the technological world over the last decade have resulted in the development of high-tech ground systems that researchers are testing in hopes of mitigating unnecessary loses inflicted during support operations in hostile environments.

Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan know first hand about how dangerous a Soldier’s job can be. Because of this, the underlying goal in the development of any military technology is to discover ways of protecting ‘our most important asset’ and enabling him or her to accomplish any mission assigned.

Members of the TARDEC highlighted their Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System during a technology capabilities demonstration Tuesday for senior leaders within the DoD’s military-tech community.

The AMAS is a modular system that replaces a flesh and blood vehicle driver with a programmable robotics kit.

Troopers from Regimental Support Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment participated in the demonstration by learning how to operate the system through programming a convoy of large transport vehicles to negotiate an urban environment on post. Sensors mounted on the top of each vehicle alerted trucks to common hazards found in cities, causing them to stop or drive around obstacles.

“I like the idea and think that these vehicles would help me in my job as a driver,” said Pfc. Betancourt Giovanni, a motor transport specialist assigned to Muleskinner Squadron. “Having the ability to go into ‘autonomous’ mode lets me focus on other things like getting some rest after a long drive, or scanning my sector for possible dangers.”

The modular design of the system allows users to deploy it to multiple vehicles in the Army. The open-ended architecture of its hardware ensures easy maintenance for future updates. But most importantly, the system save lives by allowing

Soldiers to avoid danger in the first place.

“My systems are replaceable,” said Bernard Theisen, the lead engineer of the AMAS. “But nothing can replace the life of a dead Soldier.”

Theisen said that the project is still in its testing phases and will have a few years before it becomes deployable. In the meantime, U.S. Army researchers will continue to look for practical solutions to real-world problems. But this sort of research takes

time, effort and a little forward thinking.

“The technology autonomy is expanding exponentially each day,” said Bruce McPeak, U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command’s Materiel Systems and Operational Energy Office director. “What you are seeing today is only the tip of the iceberg for logistics in the Army.”
 
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