While the technology behind fully autonomous vehicles capable of advanced decision-making in genuinely uncontrolled, real-world environments remains in its early days, remotely driven vehicles (RDVs) at the other end of the robotics spectrum are increasingly proving their worth.
Like UAVs before them, RDVs offer a bridge technology allowing all the benefits of cost-cutting and life-saving of driverless ‘Last Mile’ supply to be achieved, with the human still kept in the loop, but a safe distance away. The effectiveness of this approach was demonstrated in Michigan, using a remotely operated Polaris MRZR 4×4 all-terrain vehicle. Equipped with Light Detection and Range (LiDAR) technology, an advanced sensor system, cameras and GPS, the joint UK-US trials team were able to tele-drive it around the trial ground and successfully complete its simulated mission tasks using an adapted Xbox controller.
However, it is not only governments that are getting in on the act. With autonomous and tele-drive technologies shaping up to be an area of ever-growing military interest, the defence industry is gearing up to marry commercial innovation in vehicle autonomy with existing ground vehicle systems.