news | 3 April 2024

Accelerating Autonomous Vehicle Technology for the DoD


MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA (April 3, 2024) — Ground warfare is fast, complex, and lethal. As the DoD’s land warfare component, the U.S. Army needs to find a way to safely conduct reconnaissance and related high-risk 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 autonomous software and processes to adapt uncrewed vehicle technology to a range of diverse and challenging military environments. The Ground Vehicle Autonomous Pathways (GVAP) 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). Additionally, the project will provide a technical pipeline to continue rapid modeling, testing, evaluation, 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 110 responses spread across two GVAP solicitations. In each, a panel of DoD subject matter experts facilitated a rigorous and competitive Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) down-select process, resulting in the selection of four autonomous navigation vendors (Forterra, Kodiak Robotics, Neya Systems, Overland AI), two machine learning and autonomy pipeline vendors (Applied Intuition Inc. and Scale AI), and two software system integrators (Anduril Industries and Palantir Technologies). Together, these companies will support the Army’s Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV)  program in developing a robust, capable, and compliant software system that can operate in a variety of autonomous modes and rapidly integrate a variety of payloads as they become available.

“We are excited to work with these best-in-class autonomy providers, software experts, and systems integrators as we drive towards merging software capabilities developed through the RCV Software Acquisition Pathway (SWP) into the RCV Full System Prototype (FSP),” said Steve Herrick, RCV Product Manager. “Our software system integrators will also be the first to implement Traceability, Observability, Replaceability, and automated Consumption (TORC) compliance for Army software-centric ground vehicles, thereby helping the Army ensure programmatic flexibility and performance over time.”

Published previously on 12/6/2022 and 5/6/2023. April 2024 version contains updated award information and PM quote.