Lockheed is in discussions to "rapidly field" its Autonomous Mobility Applique System (AMAS) for the US Army’s trucks. The company has been developing the system since 2003, and now it may be deployed as soon as the end of the year.
"Outside of full-scale conflict, one of the most dangerous things you can do in the army is drive a truck," Lockheed Martin executive Frank St. John told DefenseTech. St. John works in the tactical missile department, so this may be a sign that Lockheed hopes it can capitalize on its missile technology in multiple ways.
Missile technologists have publicly unveiled fire-and-forget missiles, which use no human guidance after being fired, as well as more sophisticated laser and GPS variations.
The new driving technology would be used to help detect obstacles and reduce collisions, as well as in limited visibility or night operations. It could be used to move supplies up to 100 miles away, according to Lockheed.
Lockheed sought to build AMASs for autonomous convoy missions in "urban, local-haul" and "line-haul, secondary road" environments.
Officials have completed 55,000 hours of kit testing, but combat deployment of the modified vehicles will hinge on a drill set for this summer. DARPA’s "grand challenge" to replace dangerous supply convoys with robots that do the same thing may soon come to fruition.
In March, 2004 DARPA offered a $1 million cash prize for anyone with a prototype vehicle that could make its way around a 142-mile obstacle course in Nevada. Nobody took home the money, but one vehicle traversed approximately 7.5 miles of the track.