In the time of drones and driverless cars, the United States military will not be left behind. In an effort to lessen casualties during its operations, the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), in collaboration with defense contractor Lockheed Martin, has successfully tested fully automated military vehicles.

The new technology explored through the Autonomous Mobility Applique System (AMAS) program of the military has been proven capable of operating in urban environments. The capabilities of several large autonomous vehicles were seen during a demonstration at Fort Hood, Texas in Jan. 14 to mark the completion of the Capabilities Advancement Demonstration (CAD).

With drone strikes as a regular part of the military arsenal, the new technology will allow the United States to come closer to its goal of autonomous warfare.

"We are very pleased with the results of the demonstration, because it adds substantial weight to the Army's determination to get robotic systems into the hands of the warfighter," said technical manager of TARDEC Bernard Theisen.

During the demonstration, the autonomous vehicles were presented with real-world challenges that are normally faced by military convoys. The success of the vehicles gets the military a step closer to removing humans from convoys in the future.

"The AMAS hardware and software are designed to automate the driving task on current tactical vehicles. The Unmanned Mission Module part of AMAS, which includes a high performance LIDAR sensor, a second GPS receiver and additional algorithms, is installed as a kit and can be used on virtually any military vehicle. In the CAD demonstration, the kit was integrated onto the Army's M915 trucks and the Palletized Loading System (PLS) vehicle," Lockheed explained details of the program through a statement.

The kit was developed by Lockheed Martin through a multi-million contract secured in 2012.

Military convoys are often attacked by enemies using suicide bombers, car bombs, or improvised explosive device. In Dec. 27, for example, a car bomb was used to attack a convoy along a major thoroughfare in Kabul, killing three soldiers and hurting six civilians. In Jan.4, a NATO-led security force convoy was also attacked by the Afghan Taliban in the same city.

Lives will definitely be spared with the use of unmanned vehicles. Now all the military needs to worry about are hackers that might be able to take control over these vehicles.

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