Autonomous technology headed to the battlefield thanks to U.S. Army, Oshkosh deal

OSHKOSH, Wis. Oshkosh Defense, an Oshkosh Corporation, has won a $49 million contract from the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC) to integrate existing palletized load system (PLS) vehicles with scalable autonomous technology as part of the U.S. Army’s Expedient Leader Follower (ExLF) program.

The ExLF program, according to Oshkosh company materials, removes soldiers from the vehicle while it operates in highly contested areas. The to-be-installed autonomous technology was designed to be operated in a variety of modes, including leader-follower, fully autonomous, and teleoperation, in a bid to support either manned or unmanned operations.

“The PLS has been an integral part of the U.S. Army’s resupply and distribution fleet for over 25 years,” said Pat Williams, Vice President and General Manager of Army and Marine Corps programs for Oshkosh Defense. “By equipping these vehicles with autonomous capabilities, we can significantly reduce our soldiers’ exposure to enemy threats by taking them out of the vehicle altogether.”

Under the terms of the contract, Oshkosh will initially integrate an 70 autonomy kits for Program Development and Operational Technical Demonstrations (OTD); the contract also has an option for the Army to procure up to 150 autonomy kits.