Unmanned Ground Vehicles As An IED Defense

by: Matthew Potter
September 8, 2009

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The U.S. Army is investing heavily in all sorts of unmanned aerial and ground vehicles for a variety of missions. The ones entering service so far have been used to collect intelligence and deal with mines, Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) or unexploded ordnance. The systems to defeat the IED threat exist to minimize the exposure of personnel.

The Army is now also looking at autonomous vehicles that could be used to support logistic operations. In Iraq and Afghanistan there is a requirement for a great deal of vehicle activity to move men and supplies. There are just not enough helicopter or tactical transports to go around which forces a reliance on traditional road based truck traffic. These convoys provide a tempting target and as originally the vehicles tended to be lightly armored casualties were significant. That is why the U.S. invested heavily in Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles and up-armored trucks and HUMVEEs.

Now Cnet reports that Oshkosh Corporation took one of their new unmanned ground tactical trucks to Fort Hood for a demonstration of its capabilities. The vehicle was outfitted with several different systems including drive-by-wire, scanning lasers for obstacle detection and a one that feeds data back to human operators.

If the systems are developed and work safely they will reduce U.S. casualties by forgoing the need to have the vehicles crewed. Of course as with everything there is a cost associated with this and the use of unmanned driving systems will increase the cost of what is a fairly cheap truck to move supplies a great deal. It is another example of the U.S.’s willingness to spend money to save lives.

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