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Army Tests Self-Driving Trucks; Convoy Tech to Go Commercial?

Image: Army Tests Self-Driving Trucks; Convoy Tech to Go Commercial?
 (U.S. Army)

By    |   Monday, 14 Mar 2016 12:17 PM

The U.S. Army plans to test self-driving trucks on highways this summer and the driverless convoy technology could pave the way for commercial trucks, Forbes reported.

Set to take place in June on Interstate 69 in Michigan, the test will examine how the trucks communicate using radio links, Forbes said. They will share data about their speed and location with roadside transponders and receive data about speed limits and lane closures in return.

Drivers will maintain control of the vehicles during the tests. But future experiments are expected to test robotic control of the vehicles.

“We’re very sensitive to the safety of our engineers and our neighbors on the roadways,” Army spokesman Douglas Halleaux told Forbes.

The technology could benefit the Army by freeing soldiers for other tasks, removing them from danger, and reducing risks from driver fatigue and human error.

The transponders being used in the tests this summer will cost $5,000 each and have a range of 328 yards, Automotive News reported.

Fitting the test convoy with radar, cameras and onboard computers will cost about $175,000 per vehicle, Automotive New said. But mass-producing the equipment could cut the price to about a tenth of that.

Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, known as dedicated short-range communications, or DSRC, also could benefit commercial truckers, emergency vehicles and other fleet operators.

The development of self-driving supply convoys could lead to autonomous combat vehicles, which could reveal where enemies may be hiding, National Defense magazine reported.

"Put the risk on the robot. It doesn't care if it gets blown up," Bob Sadowski, the Army's chief roboticist, said, per National Defense.

Autonomous convoys would likely be protected by gun trucks and have a man in charge of deciding when and if to fire back at attackers.

"We are trying to move away from the idea of robots as tools to robots as teammates," Sadowski added.

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The U.S. Army plans to test self-driving trucks on highways this summer and the driverless convoy technology could pave the way for commercial trucks, Forbes reported.
army, tests, self-driving, trucks, convoy, tech, commercial
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2016-17-14
Monday, 14 Mar 2016 12:17 PM
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