(ORDO NEWS) — DARPA has announced that it has given the green light to a new series of field trials at Camp Roberts, Calif., aimed at building autonomous combat vehicles that can keep up with crewed vehicles when moving at speeds over rough terrain.
Modern armies are mobile fighting forces that rely on speed and maneuverability in everything from flat plains to rugged mountainous terrain as a means of gaining an advantage over the enemy.
This is a technique that has evolved by leaps and bounds since it was first introduced as a blitzkrieg during World War II, and as autonomous vehicles become more sophisticated, they must learn to adapt if they are to keep up. soldier people.
Autonomous vehicles are slowly being introduced into some of the world’s most advanced armies, and they promise many benefits.
Where each truck in a supply convoy needed to have several crews of drivers, an autonomous convoy may need only one vehicle with a crew – if there are many. In addition, such robotic vehicles can be self-deploying, freeing up human soldiers for more important tasks.
However, military planners believe that such vehicles have more uses than just delivering rations to the front line or guiding a tank back to base for maintenance.
The ultimate goal is to create autonomous vehicles that can act as part of battle groups, which means they should be able to move just as fast and just as nimbly over rough terrain as those driven by their counterparts. people.
To achieve this goal, the DARPA Robotic Autonomy in Complex Environments with Resiliency (RACER) program, in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the University of Washington, is developing autonomous software stacks for robotic systems provided by DARPA.
A preliminary test called “Experiment 1” was conducted earlier this year in Fort Irvine, California. The second series is currently running at Camp Roberts until September 27 and will feature robotic vehicles moving at relatively high speeds in realistic environments.
“Experiment 1”, conducted in March and April, included tests on six tracks representing different terrain, with 40 autonomous runs over a distance of about 3.2 km at a speed of just under 32 km/h.
These runs included obstacles including rocks, bushes and ditches that could severely damage the robotic vehicles, as well as a desert environment designed to test the system’s ability to identify, classify and avoid obstacles at higher speeds.
The next series, “Experiment 2”, will go beyond the desert terrain to test new perception algorithms on larger and steeper hills, as well as the ability of the robotic vehicle to overcome steep slopes, slippery surfaces and ditches at greater distances than in “Experiment 1”
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