Autonomous Ground Targets Under Development for US Air Force

By Mike Ball / 12 Mar 2021
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Autonomous UGV target for USAF

Mountain Horse Solutions, tpgroup and Digital Concepts Engineering Ltd (DCE) have ben awarded a contract to develop and demonstrate fully autonomous unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) targets to the United States Air Force (USAF). The targets are intended to simulate convoys of multiple vehicle types moving at speed to provide highly realistic targets for pilots during targeting and strike training and munition capability assessment missions.

The team will initially develop a prototype target vehicle and demonstrate it to the USAF, with the potential for this initial contract to develop into a long-term supply agreement to provide these autonomous targets to the USAF for up to 10 years. The system will be developed using state-of-the-art technology including DCE’s Marionette system and tpgroup’s North* path planning software. These technologies are commercially proven and are being modified to meet the needs of the USAF, therefore providing a low risk and highly capable solution.

Bill Allen, President of Mountain Horse Solutions, stated: “Our joint team brings incredible expertise, knowledge, and experience in automotive autonomy to the USAF project. Together, we’re introducing game-changing technology that has potential cost-effective benefits in how training realism takes place for combat pilots, ensuring the USAF maintains its surveillance, targeting, and lethality advantage over our adversaries.”

John Shimell, Head of Autonomy at tpgroup, commented: “The challenge with this project is that the autonomous targets have to function in a GPS-denied environment. Our team has a very innovative way of achieving this and the USAF clearly saw the benefit in our proposal. We’re very excited to demonstrate to the USAF the full capability that our joint team brings.”

Lionel Nierop, Director of Digital Concepts Engineering, said: “We have already demonstrated our technology on the UK’s Warrior Armored Vehicle, showing that our Marionette ‘toolkit’ can convert any vehicle to autonomous use quickly and cost-effectively. Our team has the capability to provide fleets of military vehicles converted to autonomous use for the USAF to conduct their training.”

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Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact