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US Army steps towards 2019 delivery of autonomous leader-follower convoy technology

02 November 2018
On 26 October the US Army held an autonomous leader-follower convoy demonstration around a two-mile course. Source: US Army

With an eye towards fielding autonomous vehicle convoys to reduce manpower and risk to soldiers in theatre on resupply missions, the US Army is moving ahead with plans to field the technology in the country in 2019.

"This is an important project that promises to make military logistics safer and more efficient, and should do the same for civilian transportation," said Tony England, the University of Michigan-Dearborn's dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, in a 1 November release. "Platooning extends the human intelligence and skill of one driver to many vehicles, and increasingly can be further leveraged by artificial intelligence, whether we're talking about trucks, cars, or even aircraft."

The Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) is working with multiple universities to develop the technology, and in late October hosted an autonomous leader-follower convoy demonstration.

During the demonstration, the service put two commercial line-haul trucks and two M915 tractor-trailers through a series of "driverless technology manoeuvres" on a two-mile course. Some of the manoeuvres included traditional leader-follower exercises, capability-enabling throttle, brake control, and lateral steering control. Additionally, the exercise showcased the technology's ability to have vehicles merge into the convoy, a manoeuvre which requires the trucks to slow down or speed up.

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