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The US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) demonstrated advanced behaviours in an autonomous leader-follower convoy at the American Center for Mobility in October.

The event at the new driverless vehicle testing facility was conducted in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Auburn University.

The demonstration saw a mixed convoy of two commercial line-haul trucks and two army counterpart M915 tractor-trailers loop around a two-mile course performing a series of driverless technology  manoeuvres.

In addition to the standard leader-follower, or platooning, capability-enabling throttle and brake control, engineers showed off lateral steering control through the convoy. An additional vehicle was also merged into the convoy with the trucks reacting automatically to the incursion. With a merging vehicle, the convoy trucks will either speed up or slow down, depending on the best way to avoid a collision.

Tony Kratofil, chief operating officer, MDOT, said: ‘MDOT is able to provide an environment to support testing of live roadways, and TARDEC is able to provide the military expertise and background; we know that testing technology on our roadways for military applications ultimately will provide benefits for civilian populations and applications.’

Following the week-long testing, the TARDEC-led team drove the autonomous leader-follower convoy from Ypsilanti to the Detroit Arsenal, exercising the robotic capability of the follower vehicles along Interstates 275 and 696.