The US Army and Lockheed Martin recently tested an automated convoy vehicle designed to protect soldiers from ambushes and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks.
"The Convoy Active Safety Technology system (CAST), which enables convoy vehicles to autonomously follow each other, [successfully implemented] a [new] push-vehicle feature," explained Lockheed Martin spokesperson Glenn Miller.
"[This] allows the first vehicle to be driven autonomously, as compared to past system designs where the lead had to be under human control."
According to Miller, CAST's push-vehicle capability "directly responds" to real life dangers currently faced by US troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It...prevents injury and loss of life in the forward vehicle, which most frequently bears the brunt of deadly ambushes and IED attacks," said Miller.
"CAST already improves the safety, security, survivability and sustainment of tactical wheeled vehicles. Our proven push-vehicle feature takes that to another level."
CAST was originally developed to lead a convoy of semi-autonomous follower vehicles into hazardous areas without a human operator on board.
Using the AutoMate sensor, actuator and processing kit, any tactical wheeled vehicle can be rapidly converted into a push vehicle or perform as part of the convoy.
Tests have already proven that CAST-enabled trucks are capable of following roads and other vehicles to eliminate rear-end collisions, reduce road departures and enable soldiers to respond to 25 percent more hostile threats from greater distances.