Army progresses autonomous truck development


A $3.5 million Australian Army project to develop a convoy of autonomous trucks that use technology to ‘follow the leader’, reducing the need for troops and the risks they face, has successfully completed a series of road trials.

The autonomous leader-follower vehicle technology, using modified Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles–Australia (RMMV-A) trucks, was developed under a contract between the Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation (IISRI) at Deakin University, and the army’s Robotic and Autonomous Systems Implementation and Coordination Office (RICO).

In 2013 defence acquired 2,536 of the medium and heavy trucks, and 2999 modules, from RMMV-A and 1,582 trailers from Haulmark Trailers under its Land 121 40M program.

The road trials took place over a two-week period at defence’s Trials and Proving establishment at Monegeetta, Victoria, and involved a five-vehicle convoy.

Minister for defence industry Melissa Price said the development of robotic and autonomous systems were vital to meeting Australia’s future operational challenges, including for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, as well as in combat operations.

She said the assessment was completed within one year of the allocation of the funding.

“These technologies are ‘disruptive technologies’ that provide marked advantages on the modern battlefield by bolstering ADF capability while protecting Australian personnel.”

RICO continues to work with IISRI and the Australian Road Research Board on the potential transfer of the capability testing onto public roads with further refinement, performance enhancement and understanding of road rules.

“There are a number of technical and regulatory challenges to address to get these platforms into common use.

“The ongoing efforts will enable (the) army to navigate these challenges.”

Picture: Australian Army

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