US Army to Test Driverless Convoy in Michigan

May 26, 2016



Interstate 69 in St Clair and Lapeer counties in Michigan will be the test route in late June for the Army's evaluation of driverless military vehicles on public roads.

Stars and Stripes  reports the vehicles, mostly tractor trailers, will test a piece of technology that's critical in the development and testing of driverless and connected vehicles. While the operation of each vehicle will be out of human hands, there will be a live person in the driver's seat to ensure safety.

Engineers will be testing vehicle-to-vehicle and roadway-to-vehicle communication technologies. In the old days, vehicle-to-vehicle communication happened when drivers activated turn signals or apply the brakes, causing lights to flash on the rear of the vehicle. The Army's trucks will deliver those signals by radio. Roadside transmitters will take the place of current road signs for the computer-driven vehicles.

Six radio transmitters will be set up along Interstate 69 to allow for groups of five vehicles to broadcast speed, distance, and traffic issues as directed over the frequency, said Alex Kade, chief system architect in ground vehicle robotics for the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) in Warren, Michigan.

Kade, a former General Motors employee, said the advancement of driverless vehicles could help cut down on accidents and dangerous combat situations for soldiers, especially in places where bombs and improvised explosive devices could be hidden. If the technology tests successfully, it may be used in military operations.

I-69 was selected for the testing because of its proximity to and international border crossing and to the TARDEC headquarters at the U.S. Army Detroit Arsenal in Warren, said Doug Halleaux, the center's public affairs officer.