Oshkosh is partnering with the U.S. Army’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC) and an industry team including Oshkosh Defense, Robotic Research, and DCS Corporation on the Expedient Leader-Follower (ExLF) project.
This collaboration allows the company to apply next generation defense technologies and advanced systems to vehicles to meet their evolving requirement
Applications of autonomous technology in the ExLF project enable a series of unmanned vehicles to “follow” a single manned lead vehicle while operating in contested areas of operation. Leader-Follower technology serves to remove soldiers from at-risk vehicles in often-targeted convoy routes. It can help save soldiers’ lives and requires fewer people to do the same amount of work. This autonomous technology creates a more efficient means for moving cargo while freeing up more soldiers to do other important work, Oshkosh says.
The U.S. Army selected the Palletized Load System (PLS) by Oshkosh Defense to be the first of the tactical fleet to field this technology.
Autonomous operation is made possible by using robotic perception technologies to understand and classify different objects in various environments.
“For a robot to operate as well as a human, it needs to be able to perceive the world and understand these different conditions,” said John Beck, director of Unmanned Systems for Oshkosh Corporation. “By combining the strengths of one sensor to accommodate the weaknesses of another, we are capable of operating in a variety of different environments.
"We use best-in-class sensing technologies, such as radar and light detection and ranging (LIDAR), to gather rich data to train novel machine learning algorithms to identify and distinguish objects in a vehicle’s path," Beck said. "Their unique capability permits the autonomy system to negotiate environments intelligently and competently. This includes driving uninhibited on open ground, selecting appropriate speeds on slopes, grades and rough terrain, and avoiding hazardous obstacles while ignoring vegetation and heavy dust.
“A radar is very good at seeing through dust, smoke and rain,” Beck continued. “With LIDAR, we are capable of detecting the ground surface and other objects with high precision so that we can control the vehicle confidently in complex environments."
Oshkosh is the parent company of JLG.