WASHINGTON: The US Army is thought to be keen to make use of autonomous trucks to help free up its personnel for other roles while also allowing it to send unmanned vehicles into dangerous areas.
Called the Unmanned Mission Module, the technology used in the Fort Hood tests included a high performance LIDAR sensor – or laser radar.
This remote sensing technology is capable of scanning the road ahead and measuring distances by illuminating a target with a laser, and analysing the light that is reflected. The module is also fitted with a GPS receiver to plan, and track the convoy’s route. Google’s self-driving cars use similar sensors and technologies to navigate through towns and cities.
Attacks on vehicles and convoys are a common cause of casualties in war zones while accidents also contribute to military fatalities. According to the Times Herald of Port Huron, the test on the Interstate 69 highway in Michigan will be the first time the army has taken its self-driving vehicles onto public roads. The highway will remain open to traffic during the testing period.
Previously it has demonstrated the technology on private roads on its test facilities, including in a mockup of a real town to show how they would cope in urban settings.
Alex Kade, from the US Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Centre, said: ‘Six radio transmitters will be set up along Interstate 69 to allow for groups of five vehicles to broadcast speed, distance, and traffic issues as directed over the frequency.’
If the testing is successful, the technology could save the lives of soldiers serving overseas, according to officials. Driver-less convoy is tested by the US military in Texas.