U.S. Army Will Test Self-Driving Trucks on Public Roads This Year

US Army Trucks on road 3 photos
Photo: US Army
Soldier in the cab of an autonomous truckAutonomous truck convoy
The U.S. Army is intending to test self-driving trucks on public roads this year. The move could help accelerate the development of the technology for civilian use.
According to a Forbes report, the U.S. Army will test an autonomous truck convoy on public roads in Michigan. The test will include at least four vehicles, and it will happen on Interstate 69.

The report mentioned that the event will first take place this June, but Army officials refused to specify the precise date of their maiden test and to confirm the month it is scheduled for.

However, we know that the trucks designed by the Army will have a backup system for the autonomous technology. Along with the systems usually installed to ensure independent operation of a vehicle, the US Army vehicles will feature a radio link communication system.

The described system will enable a vehicle-to-vehicle exchange of coordinates and parameters, and it will also allow the trucks to communicate with roadside infrastructure beacons. An example of the kind of communication planned between the trucks and the transponders will be the speed and location of the vehicle sent to the roadside beacons, while the latter will return speed limits in the area and lane closure information.

Similar systems have been tested for civilian applications, even for cars that do not have semi-autonomous features. The latter was a system that enabled infrastructure elements like traffic lights to adapt their schedule to traffic flow.

Moreover, the system could also advise a vehicle to adjust its speed to ensure it reached the traffic light when it was green, to eliminate the necessity of stopping at a red light, thus saving fuel and time.

The U.S. Army has contemplated self-driving technology for its trucks for some time. The move would reduce the risk that its soldiers are subjected to when transporting gear in war zones, thus leaving the drivers perform other tasks when the driving part would be handled by the vehicles.

At first, the tests conducted by the Army will feature trucks that will be operated autonomously, but with humans behind the wheel as a precautionary measure. Like many other technologies developed for the Army, self-driving trucks could come to market for civilian applications. Companies like Daimler have already shown prototypes of such vehicles.
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About the author: Sebastian Toma
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Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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