The U.S. Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC) and the U.K. Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) have teamed up to improve autonomous vehicle capabilities throughout the entire supply chain, and in turn remove more Soldiers from exposure to direct enemy fire.
These autonomous resupply capabilities were on display at Camp Grayling in Michigan late August in a demonstration called Coalition Assured Autonomous Resupply (CAAR).
The coalition partners highlighted three different capabilities including a semi-autonomous convoy of large cargo and two types of autonomous last-mile capabilities.
For the convoy piece of the demo, GVSC showcased its leader-follower capability, or platooning operations, with two robotic High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs) and two robotic Light Medium Tactical Vehicles (LMTV), together with the U.K.’s two HX-60 utility trucks, equipped with GVSC’s Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System (AMAS) robotic kits.
This six-vehicle convoy moves bulk cargo, and then the supplies are broken down into smaller units for autonomous last-mile ground and air delivery to units that may not be near a transport road.
The last-mile ground resupply, the final chain of the logistics mission, was demonstrated with a U.S. semi-autonomous Multi-Utility Tactical Transport (MUTT) vehicle outfitted with GVSC autonomy sensors and a non-lethal Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS), providing some defense. The vehicle is operated using waypoint navigation-guided autonomy and teleoperation from a controlling HMMWV. The U.K. Viking unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), developed under Dstl’s U.K. “Last Mile” Challenge, demonstrated resupply to the MUTT to show coalition last-mile assets working together.
Some of the autonomous last-mile air capability was developed by the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Armaments Center. This capability involves unmanned aerial systems (UAS) that lift and drop cargo including ammunition, food, and medical supplies into forward areas where Soldiers need supplies quickly. The U.K. also brought several autonomous last-mile air capabilities from Dstl’s “Last Mile” challenge for experimentation in the U.S. as part of the collaboration and displayed these as part of the CAAR demonstration.
The U.S.-U.K. experiment demonstrated integrating GVSC’s AMAS technology onto allied U.K. platforms, then integrating the equipped platforms into a cooperative logistics effort.
The experiment is expected to yield information and lessons to guide the future application of AMAS technology, while also gathering feedback from U.S. and U.K. Soldiers on the effectiveness of the autonomy capabilities in completing their missions.