Wanted: Driverless Vehicles for Army Security Patrols

By Eric Beidel
Security vehicles are constantly patrolling U.S. military bases here and overseas. But what if no one is behind the wheel?

The Army is conducting market research into technology that would allow installations to send out unmanned vehicles on 24-7 patrols. These vehicles would drive around autonomously and be able to follow traffic rules and patterns, as well as share the road with pedestrians and automobiles driven by security forces.

The cost to have human guards on call at all times is unsustainable, according to Army solicitation documents.

“Forces and infrastructure are at risk due to insufficient resources available to provide adequate force protection and physical security of fixed bases,” the documents state.

The robotic vehicles ideally would be able to safely maneuver around obstacles at speeds up to about 20 mph and recognize suspicious activity, such as an unsecure door or cuts made in a fence. One situation may call for it to alert operators to an open window during non-duty hours. Another may require it to notify officials of cars parked in restricted areas.

The robot would be able to tell the difference between signs, other vehicles and humans and know which are worthy of its sensors’ attention. It also would be able to coordinate patrols and security checks with manned and other unmanned vehicles.

Topics: Robotics, Unmanned Ground Vehicles

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