Autonomous vehicles are the hottest trend in the automotive world right now. But this technology is most useful not in the civilian life, but the military. Driverless trucks and tanks can save lives in war zones, in the same way as UAVs in the skies.
That is why the U.S. Army’s Tank-Automotive Research center teamed up with Lockheed Martin to develop a new generation of autonomous trucks. These vehicles will allow the commanders to send convoys deep inside enemy territory and combat zones without the worry of loss of life.
U.S. Army vehicles are prime targets for terrorists’ Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) attacks. Roadside bombs have claimed the lives of many soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it’s high time somebody did something about it. The best way to protect the soldiers, they decided, is to eliminate the need for drivers and crew onboard the convoys.
Having secured an $11 million contract, Lockheed Martin started working on driverless trucks for the Army in 2012 and developed the multiplatform kit which integrates low-cost sensors and control systems with Army and Marine tactical vehicles to enable autonomous operation in convoys. These all-terrain vehicles can deal with all kind of obstacles including pedestrians, oncoming traffic, road intersections, traffic circles and navigate their way round stalled and passing vehicles.
Autonomous convoys will not only protect soldiers from attacks, they play a major role in Pentagon’s ambitious plan for total autonomous warfare.