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AM General, Army to test autonomous vehicle system

An autonomous vehicle transport system for passengers and equipment is to be tested by AM General and the U.S. Army's Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center.

By Richard Tomkins

March 30 (UPI) -- An autonomous vehicle for transporting personnel and equipment within U.S. military facilities is being developed by AM General and the Army.

AM General said its partnership with the U.S. Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center, or TARDEC, comes under the Applied Robotics for Installations and Base Operations initiative.

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The initiative aims is to advance the state of military robotics while simultaneously addressing U.S. military base needs by creating reliable military robotic technology and reducing operational and personnel costs.

Demonstrations of the system will begin in the spring at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, where there are favorable conditions -- restricted roads and predefined routes – for the testing.

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"The American-made AM General vehicle is ideally suited for this initiative, which will demonstrate the ability to augment the Academy's existing transportation system, which consists of a 24/7 shuttle service transporting cadets and other military personnel to/or from the Academy hospital," AM General Executive Vice President Kevin Rahrig said in a press release. "Imagine what having a fully autonomous wheelchair accessible vehicle would mean to individuals with disabilities. This partnership with the Army could be the first step in transforming transportation for millions of people."

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The system tests at West Point will examine the autonomous vehicle's safety, performance and reliability and energy efficiency, among other things.

"The West Point demonstration uses AM General's vehicle to not only demonstrate an autonomy kit, but to highlight the idea of robotics for military and civilian use," said Alex Jimenez, project leader for TARDEC's ARIBO program. "The best robotic systems in the world will not find traction until users are comfortable with the systems."

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