The Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) has sought commercial solutions to convert manned ground vehicles into unmanned platforms.
The Ground Expeditionary Autonomy Retrofit System (GEARS) program seeks to protect US soldiers from roadside bomb attacks.
The prototyping competition solicitation states that selected companies should convert up to six manned vehicles in 12 months and 50 vehicles in 30 months.
“The government is seeking vendors that can take existing military vehicles — including subsystems, such as trailers — and enhance them for safe, reliable, robust uncrewed operations through hardware and software integration,” DIU said in a solicitation for GEARS.
“Solutions for both hardware and software components will be considered. This may include but is not limited to networking and communications systems, autonomy critical hardware (sensors, compute, etc.), graphical user interfaces for vehicle command and control, teleoperation enhancements, and autonomous navigation software.”
End of Internal Vehicle Development Effort
The solicitation for commercial solutions also marks the end of the US Army’s internal Expedient Leader Follower development program, according to Breaking Defense.
The six-year effort envisaged a convoy of nine self-driving trucks led by a manned vehicle.
The program included “the government’s robotic technology kernel, Oshkosh Defense’s Palletized Load System trucks, and Robotic Research Autonomous Industries’ autonomy kits,” the outlet added.
It also included the Pentagon agency Defense Collaboration Services’ interface and communications.