A new system being developed for the Army has resulted in the first test of in driverless vehicles on our roads.
UPDATE, Sunday 18 June 2023: The Australian Army has announced it has successfully completed an on-road test using a convoy of autonomous trucks.
It’s the first time the technology has been used on a public road, with earlier trials conducted at the Royal Air Force Base Point Cook, to the west of Melbourne (see below).
This time, the convoy used the Goulburn Valley Highway and Hume Highway in Victoria’s central north.
The autonomous ‘lead-follower’ system relies on a human driver to operate the first truck, with the subsequent trucks following in a convoy – and without any input from human operators.
“This trial showed how a convoy could undertake a resupply mission between an airfield and a military base, giving us an idea of how this kind of technology could be used in the future,” Colonel Robin Smith of Army’s Future Land Warfare Branch said in a written statement following the test.
“Driving on a highway in traffic meant the technology was tested to stop safely, and leave distances between other vehicles, while following the path set by the leader.
“Down the track, technology like this could remove our soldiers from dangerous environments, or help free soldiers up for other roles.”
The original story continues unchanged below.
10 September 2022: The Australian Army has commenced development on new autonomous driving technology for use on its vehicles run in convoy.
The ‘leader-follower’ concept means a single driver could lead convoy a number of driverless vehicles, reducing the number of personnel required to transport supplies – and the number of people exposed to attack in conflict environments.
The Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) has partnered with the Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation (IISRI) at Melbourne’s Deakin University on the project, with hopes to create a “platform agnostic” prototype which can be retrofitted to any car or truck in the ADF’s fleet.
Early testing of the system has already begun at the Royal Australian Air Force Base Point Cook in Melbourne’s west, with MAN trucks being driven remotely to test the effectiveness of the vehicle controls.
The project is now focused on developing the autonomous systems required to drive on public roads.
The ARRB says it aims to simulate a scenario in which vehicles drive in a convoy from an airport, along a main supply route, to deliver supplies to a tactical field location.