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Michigan Interstate to be Summer Testing Ground for U.S. Army Autonomous Fleet

The U.S. Army is moving forward with plans to test an autonomous convoy on Michigan’s Interstate 69 this summer.

The U.S. Army is moving forward with plans to test an autonomous convoy on Michigan’s Interstate 69 this summer.

According to a recent report from Driverless Transportation, the road test will feature a convoy of at least four military trucks, fitted with a range of road sensing and vehicle-to-infrastructure technologies, and is set to test the real-world capability of the vehicles.

Sections of the thoroughfare are to be fitted transponders to help guide the Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) vehicles. Each transponder is said to cost around $5,000, while the radar, camera and onboard computer packages cost around $175,000 per vehicle.

To date, the Army’s testing has mostly fallen to driverless vehicles following human piloted vehicles. This test will reportedly rely on the driverless vehicles to sense and report obstacles, road closures and speed limit data to the others in the convoy. 

If the testing is successful, and the technology is deemed worthwhile, it could be another step closer to deployable, autonomous military transports and less need for human drivers.  

Interstate 69 runs from just above the capitol city of Lansing, through Flint and to the city of Port Huron. It is unclear exactly which stretch of the interstate will be used for the testing.

Eyragon Eidam is the Web editor for Government Technology magazine, after previously serving as assistant news editor and covering such topics as legislation, social media and public safety. He can be reached at eeidam@erepublic.com.