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Aero India 2023

US Army testing rugged, autonomous robot vehicle

The US Army Autonomous Platform Demonstrator. A US Army Photo.

ARLINGTON (BNS): The US Army's Autonomous Platform Demonstrator, or APD, is a 9.6-ton, six-wheeled, hybrid-electric robotic vehicle currently undergoing developmental and mobility testing at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

With its advanced hybrid-electric drive train, the 15-foot-long vehicle, being developed by the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), can achieve speeds of over 50mph.

"The vehicle has obstacle detection and avoidance technology," said Dr. Jim Overholt, senior research scientist in robotics, Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), as quoted in US Army news release.

The mobility testing is aimed at advancing and developing the robot's ability to manoeuvre at higher speeds while maintaining extreme terrain-ability at lower speeds.

The APD, when equipped with its autonomous navigation system, is configured with GPS waypoint technology, an inertial measurement unit and computer algorithms which enable it to move autonomously at speeds up to 50mph while avoiding obstacles in its path.

The APD is currently testing high speed manoeuvrability, such as lane changing.

"This is a challenging controls problem with a skid steer vehicle. We want the robot to be stable when performing maneuvers like this, but we also want it to retain the other mobility characteristics that it possesses at lower speeds," said Chris Ostrowski, associate director for Vehicle Electronics and Architectures at TARDEC, according to the release.

Being a series hybrid-electric vehicle, the APD is propelled by six in-hub electric motors and has a diesel generator which charges its lithium ion batteries.

Other technologies being demonstrated include advanced suspension systems, thermal and power management systems, robotic safety systems, and lightweight hull technologies.

APD is the mobility platform being used by the Robotic Vehicle Control Architecture (RVCA) Army Technology Objective, also out of TARDEC. Working with PEO-Integration, RVCA has integrated a suite of system control, display and sensing hardware and software on the APD which allow it to be controlled real-time by a soldier, or operate in an autonomous mode.

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