USAF Looking for Autonomous Convoys for Its Pilots to Blow Up

Mountain Horse and two other companies to make autonomous targets for USAF 1 photo
Photo: Digital Concepts Engineering
As with anything in life, training is of extreme importance for the pilots of the U.S. Air Force (USAF). It was training, and almost infinite resources, that have made the military branch the most powerful of its kind in the world, and USAF plans to keep things that way even as the world is dramatically changing thanks to ever-evolving technology.
The obvious evolution for the Air Force is the incorporation of autonomous systems. Work on several such projects has already begun, and we’ll probably see tangible results in this field during our lifetime. And while most of these autonomous systems are active ones, offensive and defensive, not the same can be said for the thing we’re here to talk about.

Earlier this month, American contractor Mountain Horse announced it has teamed up with British companies tpgroup and Digital Concepts Engineering for the creation of autonomous systems that USAF pilots could use for target practice.

That’s right, autonomous targets that can move in a high-speed convoy, simulating perhaps some kind of warlord trying to escape American wrath. Such a hardware, says Mountain Horse, will not only allow pilots to practice their aim, but also the Air Force to test munition capability.

For now, we’re not given any details on how these autonomous vehicles will look like – it probably doesn’t matter, given how they’ll all end up looking like twisted piles of metal in the end. A prototype will be ready for evaluation sometime this spring, and if all goes well, a long-term supply contract might land in the company’s backyard.

“The challenge with this project is that the autonomous targets have to function in a GPS denied environment,” said in a statement John Shimell, Head of Autonomy at tpgroup.

“Our team has a very innovative way of achieving this and the USAF clearly saw the benefit in our proposal. We’re very excited to demonstrate to the USAF the full capability that our joint team brings.”
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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