On June 6, the Australian Army successfully deployed an autonomous truck convoy on a public road in Victoria for the first time in a recent trial supported by the National Transport Research Organization and Deakin University.
The Army conducted a highway test simulating an autonomous refueling mission between Mangalore Airport and Puckapunyal, via the Goulburn Valley Highway and the Hume Highway. A convoy of four autonomous Army trucks successfully followed a manned “lead” vehicle on public roads.
As traffic on the freeway intensified, the technology was put to the test in real-world conditions, ensuring a safe stop and proper distance from other vehicles, all while following the route set by the lead vehicle.
According to Colonel Robin Smith from the Army Future Land Warfare Branchthe autonomous vehicles performed well and demonstrated the possibility of using a convoy to conduct a refueling operation between an airport and a military base.
“Down the road, technology like this could take our soldiers out of dangerous environments or help free up soldiers for other roles,” Smith said.
In October 2021, the Australian Department of Defense put a convoy of five vehicles on trial over two weeks, with trials conducted at the Defense Trials and Proving facility in Monegeetta, Victoria, following Deakin University’s Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation ( IISRI) awarded a $3.5 million contract to expand lead-follower vehicle technology prototypes in August 2020.
IISRI and the Australian Army’s Robotics and Autonomous Systems Implementation and Coordination Office (RICO) used modified Land 121 40M cargo trucks to develop leader-follower autonomous vehicle technology.
The Australian Army is actively working alongside industry and academia to explore how technology can improve mission success while minimizing risk to soldiers. As part of its modernization efforts, they are currently conducting a test that includes the exploration of various cutting-edge technologies such as human-machine teaming, quantum technology, artificial intelligence, and electricity.
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