MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA (May 20, 2022)—Ground warfare is fast, complex, and lethal. As the Department of Defense’s (DoD) land warfare component, the U.S. Army needs to find a way to safely conduct reconnaissance and related tasks in these environments. Substantial technical breakthroughs in robotics and self-driving vehicles are enabling the use of autonomous systems to support high-risk missions and reduce risk for combat troops in military operations.
The U.S. Army has partnered with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) to prototype a software as well as a process to adapt uncrewed vehicle technology to the diverse and challenging military operation environments. The Ground Vehicle Autonomous Pathways project will prototype software for the navigation of uncrewed vehicles by fusing data from multiple sensors and allow for teleoperations of unmanned ground vehicles (UGV). The project will also provide a technical pipeline to continue rapid development and deployment of autonomous features as they become commercially-available.
“There has been a revolution in the techniques and capabilities of uncrewed ground vehicles occurring in the private sector over the past two decades,” said Dr. Kevin O’Brien, Technical Director for DIU’s Autonomy Portfolio. “We’re eager to bring these matured technologies back into the Department of Defense, where initial work was inspired by the DARPA Grand Challenges.”
DIU received 33 responses to the Ground Vehicle Autonomous Pathways solicitation. A panel of DoD subject matter experts facilitated a rigorous and competitive Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) down-select process, resulting in the selection of five vendors for this effort— Applied Intuition Inc., Kodiak Robotics, Neya Systems, Robotic Research Autonomous Industries and Scale AI.
“The DIU CSO process brought new vendors, with significant development and testing experience, to raise the floor on autonomy in the DoD,” said Lieutenant Colonel Chris Orlowski, the Product Manager for the U.S. Army’s Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) program. “The commercial sector has invested heavily in this technology, and we are excited to see this in action by leveraging the self-driving technology that is working on American highways today..”
The integration of a software suite will enable a technical pipeline to continue rapid development and deployment of autonomous features as they become available by industry.
Story initially published on 12/6/2022. May 2023 version updated with new awardees.