The first evaluation for the unmanned vehicle technology took place May 15 to 20, 2011 at Castles Assault Landing Strip (ALS) at Fort Pickett in Blackstone, VA. The Cargo UGV was loaded with 6 tons of cargo on the back, and the Marine Corps already had a test plan which included testing for static and moving object avoidance, looping missions, leader/follower behavior, GPS-denied operations and primative road traversal, including water crossings. “We disconnected the GPS antenna to prove the system would work without a signal, and after about mile six of successful driving, they were satisfied with its performance,” says John Beck, Chief Engineer – Unmanned Systems, Oshkosh Corp.
About six weeks later, Oshkosh went back for LTA 1.5 to present their solutions to the targeted improvements requested from LTA 1.0. “Coming into LTA 1.0, our classifier had not been trained for short vegetation,” says Beck. “Fort Pickett had just mowed the area, and in some cases the grass looked smoother to drive on than the road, so it was hard for the vehicle to distinguish where the road was.”
LTA 2.0 was more of a training exercise with several days spent training active Marines in the classroom and in the seat of the vehicle to apply the learned skills.“
We just got done building the second Cargo UGV truck and just shipped it at the end of January to our subcontractor’s facility in Pittsburg. Our developments are leading up to a limited technical assessment in June where we will be going through the same sorts of tests we went through in LTA 1 but with two vehicles and how the impact of operating both vehicles from one operator control unit: Shadow mode, following distances, vehicles in between, different formations and configurations.“
The project culminates in a Limited Objective Experiment which is much like our LTA 2 where we train Marines, but there will be other forces as well. We train the operators; they get a mission to deliver cargo from point A to point B. There may be an opposing force that is going to try to attack them along the way and we’ll learn more about the CONOPS and TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedures),” Beck concludes.
This article is part of a larger story, "Operation Unmanned Machine" featuring Oshkosh Corp.'s unmanned vehicle technology utilizing LIDAR, cameras and sensors to allow a vehicle to learn and differentiate between harmless and potentially harmful objects. Click here to read the whole story.