Oshkosh Defense announced that the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC) awarded Oshkosh a $49 million contract to integrate existing Palletized Load System (PLS) vehicles with scalable autonomous technology as part of the U.S. Army’s Expedient Leader Follower (ExLF) program.
The ExLF program addresses the needs of the Leader Follower Directed Requirement and Program of Record by removing soldiers from the vehicle while operating in highly-contested areas. Oshkosh autonomous technology was designed with the flexibility to be operated in a variety of modes, including leader-follower, fully autonomous, and teleoperation, to support manned or unmanned operations.
“The PLS has been an integral part of the U.S. Army’s resupply and distribution fleet for over 25 years,” said Pat Williams, Vice President and General Manager of Army and Marine Corps programs for Oshkosh Defense. “By equipping these vehicles with autonomous capabilities, we can significantly reduce our soldiers’ exposure to enemy threats by taking them out of the vehicle altogether.”
Under the contract, Oshkosh will integrate an initial 70 autonomy kits for Program Development and Operational Technical Demonstrations (OTD). The contract holds an option to procure up to 150 autonomy kits.
“We are committed to bringing this life-saving technology to the battlefield,” Williams continued. “Through nearly 15 years of Oshkosh research and development, including independent and government testing, we are very proud to see this technology reach the U.S. Army fleets.”
The autonomous technology designed by Oshkosh Defense comes with great flexibility. It is designed for both unmanned and manned operations in support of multiple missions and can be easily integrated into both new vehicles as well as legacy vehicles. The vehicles can be operated in a variety of modes – from fully autonomous, leader-follower, to tele-operation. It is designed to support rapid deployment, troops can be trained to operate these autonomous vehicles in only a few days.
The PLS is the backbone of the U.S. Army’s resupply and distribution system, providing great efficiency and performance for loading, unloading and delivering materials. It carries a wide range of cargo and is specially designed to load and unload a variety of flatrack or IOS compatible containers all on its own.