US Army researchers began experimenting with autonomous vehicles at a new testing facility within Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) in Middle River, Maryland.
APG allotted Army Research Laboratory (ARL) with 200 acres to prove and refine autonomous vehicles’ performance. The facility has been home to the service for nearly a century, where munitions and weapons have been tested.
“The one-of-its-kind research campus was established to advance Army knowledge of autonomy and intelligent systems through basic and applied research of unmanned technologies that integrate artificial intelligence, autonomy, robotics and human teaming elements in complex environments,” Jeffrey Westrich, an ARL program manager said.
Last month, Army researchers performed the first fully-autonomous vehicle test at ARL’s new testing grounds.
Westrich said, “the tests served to preliminarily prove the performance of the ARL Autonomy Stack for future, extended field testing.”
ARL’s Autonomy Stack is a software framework and collection of algorithms that are the brains of an autonomous vehicle.
Before recent field testing, Army researchers relied on computer-based modeling and simulation.
A video published on YouTube captured the field test as the autonomous vehicle navigated through a wooded area.
ARL plans more tests this year of autonomous vehicles to evaluate their artificial intelligence-enabled systems.
The timing of the test and upcoming ones comes as the Army has been receiving prototype light, medium, and heavy robotic combat vehicles to prepare for eventual fielding on the modern battlefield.
Last month, the service received two Robotic Combat Vehicle-Light unmanned ground vehicle prototypes.
In October, the Army said it was about to receive four 10-ton Ripsaw M5 Robotic Combat Vehicle prototypes.
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