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Marine Corps tests autonomous mini-truck

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August 6, 2014

The US Marines' autonomous vehicle has successfully demonstrated the ability to follow a p...

The US Marines' autonomous vehicle has successfully demonstrated the ability to follow a person wearing a beacon (Photo: TORC Robotics)

In a small taste of things to come in military operations, the US Marine Corps has tested a self-driving mini-truck as part of the 2014 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) international naval exercise.

The vehicle was developed in a partnership between the US Naval Surface Warfare Centre Dahlgren Division, Virginia Tech University and TORC Robotics. Together, they’ve transformed the Marine Corps’ Internally Transportable Vehicle (ITV) – a jeep-like truck – into a fully functioning autonomous vehicle capable of cruising at a leisurely 8 mph (13 km/h).

The ITV is fitted with TORC Robotics’ Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate (GUSS) system, which was also employed in the 2010 RIMPAC war games.

In the latest tests, it demonstrated the ability to follow someone wearing a beacon at a predetermined distance.

The aim of the vehicle is to be able to keep soldiers safe by reducing their exposure to dangerous environments, as well as lighten their load by carrying supplies weighing up to 1,600 pounds (725 kg) or transporting the wounded to safety.

If the vehicle gets stuck, a soldier can use a robotic controller to take direct control of the vehicle, or jump into the driver’s seat and take control at the flick of a switch.

The ITV is small enough to be carried on a Marine Corps Chinook helicopter or an Osprey tilt-rotor. It’s still in the testing phase, but we can expect to see similar options in the field in the next five years.

GUSS can be seen lugging cargo here, while the video below provided a view from inside the driverless cabin.

Via: Ars Technica

3 Comments

Reducing the soldiers from dangerous environments, how's that if set to follow a soldier that wears a beacon. Makes a great target to find the platoon, noisy, large, and slow...fallback jump into the truck, and get outta there.... wait there are only two seats!

At least the robotic mule they had done thru Darpa looked like a mule. This is an half empty truck following the soldiers and attracting attention.

Bob Flint
7th August, 2014 @ 10:19 am PDT

Infantrymen routinely carry over a 100 lb of weapons, ammunition, supplies, body armor & gear. If a vehicle is not available to transport the men themselves, 1 that relieves them of part of that load will multiply the distance they can walk over the course of the day. A robotic ITV will be left in the rear once the fighting starts, just like the Army's similar but bigger SMSS or trucks with drivers. Even armored vehicles like the Marine's AAV-P7 "amtrac" or the Army's Stryker may be kept out of the fighting, depending on the level of danger.

the.other.will
7th August, 2014 @ 12:29 pm PDT

I don't like the beacon but reducing the load the soldiers have to carry is a plus.

Slowburn
10th August, 2014 @ 10:25 pm PDT
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