US military invests in autonomous off-highway technology

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The US military has awarded Autonomous Solutions Inc. (ASI) a grant to improve intelligent stop technology for its heavy-duty ground vehicles.

Phase 1 funding from the US. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicles Systems Center (formerly TARDEC) has been given to the automation technology firm to develop its Urgent Stop system.

The objective is to produce and demonstrate a system that can be operated remotely and considers both the dynamics of a large ground vehicle, as well as the environment, to optimally and safely bring it to a complete stop despite the terrain it is on.

“Bringing large autonomous vehicles to a safe stop in varying environments can be challenging,” said Jeff Ferrin, CTO of ASI. “Having additional funding from the Army to further develop this technology will help us make autonomous vehicles safer, which is always our number-one priority.”

A significant focus of the technological development will be in machine learning to continuously monitor the interaction between a vehicle and its surroundings, appropriately updating the internal model used to bring the vehicle to a standstill – allowing the vehicle to adapt to changes in its environment.

“ASI has been working on terrain characterization with the Army since 2014,” said Ferrin. “This project will use similar technology to make sure the vehicle is aware of the terrain around it. This model of the terrain will then be used by the vehicle to ensure a safer stop is completed.”

As the advanced solution is developed, tested and proven, it can be used by ASI’s autonomous vehicles across all the company’s multiple industries, including agriculture, automotive, construction haulage, mining, facility robotics and more.

Ferrin added, “The system can be used with any drive-by-wire vehicle. It will interface with the brakes and steering to bring the vehicle to a safe, controlled stop.”

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James joined the Industrial Vehicle Technology International team in 2017. Previously he was Assistant Editor on an engineering title for several years and has worked for various other trade magazines before that. James is happily married and has a young daughter who keeps him busy.

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