Driverless Trucks Will Keep Army Safe From IEDs

Photo: Lockheed MartinWired – by ALLEN MCDUFFEE

U.S. Army convoys will soon be able to roll into even the roughest of unfriendly foreign urban areas and combat zones without the worry of loss of life, thanks to new technology that will make large vehicles fully autonomous.

In demonstrations earlier this month at Fort Hood, Texas, the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and Lockheed Martin demonstrated the ability of the Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System (AMAS), which gives full autonomy to convoys to operate in urban environments. In tests, driverless tactical vehicles were able to navigate hazards and obstacles including pedestrians, oncoming traffic, road intersections, traffic circles and stalled and passing vehicles.  

Under an initial $11 million contract in 2012, Lockheed Martin developed the multiplatform kit which integrates low-cost sensors and control systems with Army and Marine tactical vehicles to enable autonomous operation in convoys. According to Lockheed, AMAS also gives drivers an automated option to alert, stop and adjust, or take full control under user supervision.

“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,” said David Simon, AMAS program manager for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, in a statement.

But not only do driverless convoys add a degree of safety under dangerous conditions, they also move the military closer its apparent goal of nearly total autonomous warfare.

“[AMAS] adds substantial weight to the Army’s determination to get robotic systems into the hands of the warfighter,” said TARDEC technical manager Bernard Theisen.

The Pentagon has long sought options for protecting U.S. military convoys from suicide bombers, IEDs and other attacks since the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Most recently, the Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack on a U.S.-led military convoy in Kabul near Camp Eggers earlier this month, when a roadside bomb exploded but without casualties.

Allen McDuffee reports on defense and national security for Wired and is currently working on a book about the influence of think tanks in Washington.

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8 thoughts on “Driverless Trucks Will Keep Army Safe From IEDs

  1. If they are showing us this, they are way beyond that! If they can accomplish this, they will also, if they haven’t already, put it in the fire control system of a tank or styker or MRAP. These are not driven by pilots sitting in a building. They are autonomous. The coordinates are put in and they are solo. When weaponized, they could wreak havoc on a civilian population. This is not a good thing and we need to pay attention to this. Once they can take the human out of the decision making, they can do a lot of bad stuff.

    1. Paul,
      Look at the top of the vehicle. That little thing spinning is some kind of GPS/camera. A little .308 could knock it out. THey will probably add some kind of armor soon and redundancy.
      IMHO, these guys have already said they want approx. 500,000,000 left on earth. When they get stuff like this up and running they could sit back with a few folks to work on them and have a field day shooting the populous.

      1. yes i saw the pods on top. You have a very grave point. Ya know if they sit back and let the robots hit us, then we need to keep track of where they are, and act accordingly.

  2. These things will all have a minimum of one .30 cal minigun with enough rounds to take out Manhattan. They will be laser controlled with sensors to scan for hostels. Wouldn’t want to be a badger on the side of the road when one of these goes by. Think of the gun battle in Robocop.

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