Driverless Technology on The Battlefield

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Self-driving technology is quickly becoming a new norm around the world. With Tesla’s autopilot feature that’s available now to the innovative startup Otto that is outfitting freight haulers with autonomous driving capabilities, the technology is advancing rapidly. Now, the U.S. Army will begin testing on autonomous trucks for the battlefield and beyond.

Find out more about ‘Otto’:

A convoy of U.S. Army vehicles will drive along a stretch of Interstate 69 in Michigan to test driverless military vehicle equipment and examine how it will hold up on public roads. The test will take place in late June and the Army is extremely excited about the potential of this technology. Removing drivers from the battlefield could free up personnel to work on other tasks while on the move. Furthermore, the technology could help reduce casualties and help keep our men and woman safe overseas.

In these tests there will be an individual behind the wheel just for an added layer of security. The vehicles will be equipped with driverless systems which include adaptive cruise control and lane assistance. There will be six radio transmitters along the highway to monitor speed, distance and traffic issues of the five vehicles in the convoy.

Another added benefit for driverless technology in a combat zone is that it can help reduce accidents and dangerous combat situations soldiers may face. Bombs and improvised explosive devices can disorient drivers but automated technology may be able to withstand these situations and continue driving unfazed by these chaotic situations. This will not only help keep Army personnel safe, it will allow them to react to the threat without having to first focus on maintain control of their vehicle. Also, the ability for these vehicles to communicate in real time allows them to monitor the entire convoy’s condition without personnel needing to report any issues they might encounter.

In the video below you can see Daimler’s self-driving semi-truck in action-

You can clearly see how this technology frees up the driver to take care of other tasks and from a military perspective, being able to keep your eyes on possible threats instead of concentrating on driving can save lives. Ideally, the U.S. Army would want to remove the drivers from the cabin entirely. For these tests the drivers will keep control of the trucks, however the Army does plan¬† to test the driverless capabilities on the interstate in the near future. An Army spokesman, Douglas Halleaux stated “It won’t be in June, but it won’t be long”

It is important to note that the stretch of I-69 will remain open to traffic while the tests takes place.

At first, this technology was intended for personal drivers then freight transportation and now it has the potential to save the lives of our country’s finest. As with any worth-while technology, more applications continue to be discovered as the technology matures and advances. There’s no telling how far this technology will go and what the next step will be.