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US Army want Self Driving Trucks by 2020
165thspc
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Posted: Monday, August 20, 2018 - 01:15 AM UTC
Army Wants 70 Self-Driving Supply Trucks By 2020

The Army is ready for unmanned vehicles but not yet for a completely unmanned convoy. The 2020 iteration is called Expedient Leader-Follower because the Army still wants a human soldier driving the lead vehicle, with up to nine autonomous trucks following in its trail. But Oshkosh and Robotics Research told me they could take the humans out altogether, if the Army wanted.

By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR.
on August 20, 2018 at 4:00 AM


Link to Demo Film:

https://youtu.be/pwbLO81faGc


If you find self-driving cars impressive today, think about Army trucks that can drive themselves off-road, in a war zone, less than three years from now.

For all the Army’s embrace of high technology, the service still wants the lead vehicle in the convoy to have a human driver, at least at first. But the unmanned trucks that follow behind will need to stick to the trail without relying on street signs, lane markings, pavement, or GPS. They might not even have a clear line of sight to the vehicle ahead of them, which may turn a corner in a city or disappear into a cloud of dust driving cross-country. En route, they have to avoid not only pedestrians, animals, and vehicles, like civilian self-driving cars, but also rubble, rocks, trees, and shell holes. And they have to avoid solid obstacles without stopping every time they see tall grass, a low-hanging branch, or a dust cloud in their path — the kind of common-sense distinction that’s easy for humans but very hard for computer vision.


Self driving PLS trucks on test course.

But the Army is confident it can be done. Army Secretary Mark Esper has publicly enthused about the technology after riding in a prototype, saying it could both free up manpower for the front line — most troops work on logistics and maintenance, not in combat units — and save lives from roadside bombs and ambushes — to which supply convoys are particularly vulnerable.

After years of tinkering, the Army has accelerated its Automated Ground Resupply (AGR) program by spinning off something called the Expedient Leader-Follower demonstration. Contractors are currently installing Robotics Research LLC’s computer brains and sensors on 10 Oshkosh M1075 PLS (Palletized Loader System) trucks that’ll be used for safety certification tests in 2019. They’ll convert 60 more to self-driving vehicles in time to equip two Army transportation companies in 2020.

While the two units’ main job will be to demonstrate the technology works in field conditions, “if they get called to deploy, they will deploy with the vehicles,” said Alberto Lacaze, president of Robotics Research, in an interview with me yesterday. “That could happen fairly quickly.”

Exactly when the large-scale demo starts in 2020 is still a moving target, based mainly on how 2019’s safety testing goes, said Pat Williams, VP for Army and Marine Corps programs at Oshkosh Defense. It’s the Army’s call on whether to compress the timeline, he told me, but “there’s interest in pulling that left where possible.”
RobinNilsson
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Posted: Monday, August 20, 2018 - 02:06 AM UTC
So if I want to stop one of those convoys I just need to slide a vertical plywood or chip-board of sufficient size across the road and then I can loot the halted convoy?
Maybe the convoy needs to be guarded by armed robots ....
/ Robin
Tank1812
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North Carolina, United States
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Posted: Monday, August 20, 2018 - 03:01 AM UTC
Not surprised it is basically already a thing on the roads now.

https://www.overdriveonline.com/volvo-deploys-truck-platooning-demo-on-designated-autonomy-testing-highway-in-n-c/
HeavyArty
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Posted: Monday, August 20, 2018 - 03:23 AM UTC
These would work in uncontested rear areas. No chance these would work in an environment like Iraq or Afghanistan. I wouldn't depend on them anyways.
Headhunter506
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New York, United States
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Posted: Monday, August 20, 2018 - 07:10 AM UTC
Take out the manned lead vehicle and roll up the shopping carts.
Vicious
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Posted: Monday, August 20, 2018 - 07:15 PM UTC

Quoted Text

So if I want to stop one of those convoys I just need to slide a vertical plywood or chip-board of sufficient size across the road and then I can loot the halted convoy?
Maybe the convoy needs to be guarded by armed robots ....
/ Robin



like this the ISIS can switch from IED to MDF...
RobinNilsson
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Posted: Monday, August 20, 2018 - 08:33 PM UTC
Could this be termed a 2020 vision?



----------------------------------------

"like this the ISIS can switch from IED to MDF.."

165thspc
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Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - 04:17 AM UTC
I'm just reporting the news as it comes to me however please factor in the possibility of Predator drones, A-10's and/or Apaches flying top cover. Could make for great bait! Then add automomous close-in self-defense weapons.
RobinNilsson
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Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - 05:26 AM UTC

Quoted Text

I'm just reporting the news as it comes to me however please factor in the possibility of Predator drones, A-10's and/or Apaches flying top cover. Could make for great bait! Then add automomous close-in self-defense weapons.



Thanks for bringing the news, it's always interesting. We are picking the plan apart, not the messenger

I would go with Ginos thoughts that this is not for contested areas. Keeping troops out of harms way could be a good idea, reduce the manpower requirement to the pilots for the top-cover ...
Getting a halted convoy moving again could be tricky though.
Someone or something needs to remove the obstacles in a manner which keeps the route usable. A big crater instead of the MDF-obstacle doesn't help ...
Autonomous weapons is another can of wriggly things ....
/ Robin
tanknick22
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Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - 05:29 AM UTC

Quoted Text

So if I want to stop one of those convoys I just need to slide a vertical plywood or chip-board of sufficient size across the road and then I can loot the halted convoy?
Maybe the convoy needs to be guarded by armed robots ....
/ Robin



Or just take out the lead truck and the entire convoy comes to a halt .
robotic trucks what a dumb idea
Littorio
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Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - 05:58 AM UTC
Top gear on the BBC did a Range Rover Vs US army TerraMax five years ago.

Youtube link Here
TopSmith
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Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - 07:54 AM UTC
It would make more since to use them for hazardous areas to reduce human life loss and to have human drivers in non contested areas. Each vehicle was programmed to follow the route and the vehicle in front.. If the vehicle in front stops in the incorrect location, the others are to bypass and keep going. What you don't want is a hack-able computer on board so a convoy drives to the enemy for resupply.
165thspc
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Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - 08:06 AM UTC
It's not a "baby elephant walk" with all vehicles blindly following the first one. Each is programmed to take over if another vehicle is damaged and also to go "off road" and work independently if necessary.

If a human is present in the convoy it is not necessary that he/she be actually driving one of the trucks nor even be located in the lead (prime target) vehicle.
Littorio
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Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - 08:46 AM UTC
If you look at the TerraMax vehicle it runs in auto mode but just like the Reaper or Predator drones it can be operated remotely if the need arises, like say an ambush.

Looking at this it would appear the TerraMax program didn't meet the requirements so they are trying again.
KurtLaughlin
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Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - 10:58 AM UTC
Typical model site reaction to any military technology story . . .

"It will never work and everyone is stupid except me."

KL
Vicious
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Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - 11:23 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Typical model site reaction to any military technology story . . .

"It will never work and everyone is stupid except me."

KL



So rude...you can also turn like this if you really want...


"Typical model site reaction to any military technology story . . .

"It will work and everyone is stupid except me."..."

....only history will tell us if and how it will evolve .... or you have some information that no one else has...certainly sooner or later it will work and we will see these convoys in action but until that moment anyone can externalize their doubts and ideas on the issue I think, without some grumpy "I know the truth and everyone else is stupid" begin to be rude ....
Das_Abteilung
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Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - 12:00 PM UTC
The bottom line is that no-one knows yet if it will work. That's the reason for the experimental vehicles and the trials.

For line haul work in benign environments the case seems pretty clear for a "yes". It is being demonstrated and assessed with up to 3 44-tonne artic (semi) trucks for potential use on EU public roads in the near future. With a driver in the lead.

I think we're all concerned about the intuition of the autonomous control mechanism. Yes, it can manipulate the controls and manoeuvre the vehicle. That's relatively easy and not new. But what is its intuition and judgement like when confronted with sudden and "difficult" situations?

And how will it sense the "difficulty"? Unless it has video pattern/object recognition with image intensification and thermal channels, it must surely employ laser scanning to assess its 3D environment.

"Beacon" signals or other RF comms between vehicles could be jammed. Directional laser is more secure but line of sight only. Laser sensors could potentially be disoriented by laser dazzle devices as deployed against laser and IR guided weapons.

Fully autonomous self-defence weapons with no human in the loop? That is a real stretch. Does a kid about to throw a rock get machine-gunned in case it's a grenade?

No crew to get out and investigate suspect IEDs etc means halting and waiting for EOD every time. Or if there's no crew lives to worry about, are the very expensive vehicles just sacrificed? Lives vs $$.

I think there's an ocean of water to flow under this bridge yet.
Kenaicop
#384
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Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - 12:29 PM UTC
Gonna have a lot of bored privates with nothing to do, that could be dangerous...
18Bravo
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Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - 01:12 PM UTC
There was a time when people doubted the incandescent light bulb would work. Or internal combustion engines. Or manned space flight...

I drive a lot from one military installation to another. Sometimes I've met folks from DARPA. If you're Googling that please stop reading this thread right now.

I digress... One of the pitfalls of driving so much is finding worthwhile radio content in the middle of nowhere. Last week in New Mexico (I think it may have been on AM 1260) there was a gal who insisted vaccinations were causing Autism. She had researched it on the internet you see, and knew more than all of the thousands of physicians and scientists who actually worked in the field, including Jonas Salk himself I suppose. In fact, kids who had been vaccinated were more of a threat to her own precious babies than those undocumented immigrant kids who had not been vaccinated. It seems vaccinated kids are carriers of the plague. So... She home schools her own kiddos to prevent them from getting sick. And thus does the gene pool perpetuate itself.

Ah! Almost forgot the kicker! This gal had first heard of the autism/vaccination relationship on... MTV!

I immediately thought of this gal when I first read this thread.
exgrunt
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Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - 03:42 PM UTC
10 years ago, if someone had said that there would be self-driving cars and drones that can deliver pizza to your house by 2018, I would have said they were on crack. I would humbly suggest that in another 10 years, it will be possible (and probably likely) that the Army will be able to figure out how to have autonomous supply trucks get from point A to point B. Also on the bright side, if one of them gets blown up by an IED, at least we aren't hearing about some kid's funeral on the 6AM news.
RobinNilsson
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Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - 07:39 PM UTC
When I was in computer programming and thought that I had solved a problem I tried to find ways or modes when my solution did not work. When I could not come up with any more possible failures I went to a colleague whom I trusted and asked if he could find any flaws in my design. He usually could and he asked me in the same way with his own designs and solutions. When neither of us could come up with a possible failure mode we could start detailed design and testing.

Coming up with a solution that will usually work is not too complicated, the real challenge lies in trying to find ALL the possible failure modes. When all the possible failure modes have been found it is time to evaluate the effects of those failures.

What happens if the radio in your car breaks down? No problem, it is not vital to the driving. OK, so what happens if the radio breaks down and you can¨t receive an urgent warning to all drivers about a bridge that has fallen down and there is dense fog so you can¨t see far enough ahead?
Is the radio still a non vital component? Some car radios have a feature that will switch to the channel sending traffic warnings in case something happens.
Ask a prepper about being prepared for possible disaster scenarios ... or maybe not, they could go off on a ranting session ...

Most people find this approach irritating since it challenges their pet inventions. In Sweden some of the banks spent a lot of money on developing a digital wallet at the same time as the cradit/debit-cards were getting popular.
1. It could be loaded with the equivalent of $400.
2. It was easy to use since there was no pin-codes or anything else in the way of security.
3. You had to go to the nearest "charging" station to refill it with more digital cash, same as going to the ATM to withdraw cash from your account.
4. It had a clever little feature to display a list of where you had spent which sums of money.

Failures:
1. If you wanted/needed to pay more than $400 you were [auto-censored] out of luck unless you had cash or a credit/debit-card
2. If you lost it somehow or if it was stolen it was the same as losing real cash, anyone could use the money stored in the card. A cedit/debit-card can be locked down if you are quick about it.
3. Going to the charging station. No improvement compared to going to the ATM to get cash.
4. Clever little feature. Could be clever, could be a nuisance if the wrong person gets hold of the card. Not a big improvement compared to keeping the important receipts. A logging in the cash card is worthless if it comes to proving date of purchase in a warranty claim.

It didn't solve any problems:
1. Still need to carry cash since all vendors had not joind the system and many would not since it cost too much for them.
2. Vendors still needed to be able to handle either cash or credit/debit-cards for larger sums than the limit on the card, service customers who did not have this digital wallet et.c.
3. No improvement in security compared to carrying cash. A credit/debit-card has better security and those allow me to access larger sums in a safer manner.
4. If I remember correctly there was also a fee for the card, similar to the fee for credit/debit-cards.

So: Doesn't solve anything, competing systems are better in some or all respects.

When I heard about it and how it was supposed to work I immediately knew that it was going to be a failure. My bank was the only of the major Swedish banks that were not involved in this. They spent a LOT of money developing the thing, installing charging stations and installing card readers in shops, producing the cards, marketing et.c.
It took about a year or year and a half of intensive efforts to launch this before they gave up and removed all the charging stations.

Wrong product at the wrong time. It could have worked for a while if they had launched it 5-10 years earlier but the technology did not exist then. Credit/debit-cards would have taken over since people use them when travelling outside of Sweden. It would definitely have died once the consumers started to get worried about security.

If they had brought me in as a consultant early in the project I could have saved them MILLIONS of dollars by killing it early

Failure mode analysis: Ask Google about FMEA

/ Robin
KurtLaughlin
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Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2018 - 04:14 AM UTC
No one from DARPA or the United States Army is coming to Armorama, Missing-Lynx, or Track-Link for critiques of their plans. Nor should they. Modeling sites are not fonts of cutting-edge thinking. People are free to express their opinions on here but those opinions must be considered for what they typically are: uninformed, ill-considered, immature, prejudiced, backward-looking, reactionary, poorly expressed, and often a combination of all of the preceding. It is perfectly reasonable if not absolutely correct to say that anyone with legitimate, useful input to this story and others like it is not expressing it on Armorama.

Please people, you are just blabbering out what pops into your mind. Don't kid yourself that your posts matter to the issue.

KL
KurtLaughlin
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Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2018 - 04:17 AM UTC

Quoted Text

One of the pitfalls of driving so much is finding worthwhile radio content in the middle of nowhere.



Two words: Satellite Radio.

KL
system
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Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2018 - 05:00 AM UTC
As a modeller I welcome the deployment of unmanned ground vehicles - my figure-painting skills are terrible.
Kenaicop
#384
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Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2018 - 05:33 AM UTC

Quoted Text

As a modeller I welcome the deployment of unmanned ground vehicles - my figure-painting skills are terrible.