ABD Solutions has created the world’s first autonomous Wolfhound Tactical Support Vehicle (TSV) using its retrofittable autonomous driving system.
Developed in partnership with NP Aerospace, engineering authority for the UK MOD protected mobility fleet, the vehicle was demonstrated at a defence technology innovation day held at the Horiba HORIBA-MIRA proving ground in the UK.
ABD Solutions’ system is vehicle-agnostic and consists of market-leading vehicle control robots, object detection and reaction systems and mission planning software. It provides any vehicle with a traditional steering wheel and pedal set up with autonomous capabilities. The system is simple to install and can be driven by a human when in place to increase flexibility.
“The defence industry wants to accelerate the autonomy of its vehicles as it has significant safety and cost benefits,” said Matthew Price, Managing Director of ABD Solutions. “One of the key challenges is maximising the substantial investment already made in the current fleet. Our product enables these legacy vehicles to be automated, today.”
There are several major benefits to automating vehicles in the defence industry; it reduces risk to defence personnel in hostile environments, increases efficiencies within theatre and logistics supply chains and maximises the life and versatility of legacy vehicle platforms and infrastructure.
In practice this enables operations, such as counter-IED, route clearance, demining and general logistics activities, to be carried out without personnel in the vehicles. Using ABD Solutions’ advanced leader-follower algorithms, object detection capabilities and drive-by-wire teleoperation technology a single driver can operate multiple vehicles in convoy, freeing up personnel to carry out more valuable tasks. The automated vehicles can also be precisely controlled to carry out simulated training exercises.
David Petheram, Chief Operating Officer, NP Aerospace, commented:
“It is encouraging to witness new generation technology being demonstrated within the protected mobility fleet. The feedback at the defence technology innovation day was very positive regarding the potential benefits that could be realised using the technology.”
ABD Solutions is a member of the AB Dynamics Group, which has been automating vehicles for several decades. It develops and supplies driving robots to the world’s leading vehicle manufacturers, proving grounds and legislative technical services.
“The Group has significant experience automating defence vehicles for development and test purposes,” continues Price. “Now, through ABD Solutions, existing fleets can be automated for use in a variety of operations. We believe this could be a life-saving technology.”
The Wolfhound is a heavy-armoured truck and is part of the TSV fleet, which is used to accompany front line patrols and carry essential combat supplies, such as water and ammunition. It provides troops with increased protection as they support missions in high-threat areas.