AM General and the U.S. Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) announced a new partnership to develop and demonstrate an autonomous driving vehicle that may revolutionize how soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, along with equipment and supplies, are transported inside U.S. military facilities.
Under the Applied Robotics for Installations and Base Operations initiative (ARIBO), AM General and TARDEC are currently developing an autonomous vehicle, with demonstrations expected to begin this spring at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point.
The ARIBO program allows current civilian robotics technology to be examined in vehicles in a semi-controlled environment such as military bases like West Point which have restricted roads, predefined routes and restrictive operations for favorable conditions. The program's aim is to advance the state of military robotics while simultaneously addressing U.S. military base needs by creating reliable military robotic technology and reducing operational and personnel costs.
"The American-made AM General vehicle is ideally suited for this initiative which will demonstrate the ability to augment the Academy's existing transportation system, which consists of a 24/7 shuttle service transporting cadets and other military personnel to/or from the Academy hospital," said AM General Executive Vice President, Kevin Rahrig. "Imagine what having a fully autonomous wheelchair accessible vehicle would mean to individuals with disabilities. This partnership with the Army could be the first step in transforming transportation for millions of people."
During testing, the autonomous program at West Point will examine:
- Vehicle safety, performance and reliability
- Acceptance of robotic technologies by government users and non-users
- Time and money savings
- Energy efficiency
- Navigation and mapping ability
"The West Point demonstration uses AM General's vehicle to not only demonstrate an autonomy kit, but to highlight the idea of robotics for military and civilian use," said Alex Jimenez, project leader for TARDEC's ARIBO program. "The best robotic systems in the world will not find traction until users are comfortable with the systems. West Point is a prime location to address the acceptance aspect of robotics by having future Army leaders see and experience these robotics first hand."