06 Oct Oshkosh's robotic truck qualifies for DARPA challenge
Oshkosh, Wis. — Oshkosh Truck Corp. and partners Rockwell Collins and the University of Parma, Italy, announced that their robotic truck, TerraMax, qualified late Wednesday to compete in the $2 million DARPA Grand Challenge, a 150-mile race of unmanned vehicles across the Mojave Desert on Saturday, Oct. 8.
TerraMax completed all four scheduled runs of 2.2- and 2.9-mile qualifying obstacle courses at the California Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
“This is an unprecedented moment for Oshkosh Truck and our partners at Rockwell Collins and the University of Parma,” said Robert G. Bohn, Oshkosh’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. “TerraMax has done very well in all of the qualifying events, and we believe its technology could someday be an enormous asset to our nation’s military.”
TerraMax is based on the Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) truck platform built by Oshkosh Truck for the Marine Corps. It operates without a driver or remote controls, using a guidance system based on standard, yet ruggedized navigational computers, a sophisticated global positioning system, laser range-finders, and a synthetic vision system. It can carry more than seven tons off-road, making it the largest entry in the Grand Challenge race.
Team TerraMax is now headed to Primm, Nev., where the DARPA Grand Challenge will begin on Saturday. The final field of 20 teams, whittled down from 195, will receive course coordinates just two hours before race time. The information will then be programmed into TerraMax before it heads to the starting line.
“To successfully compete in the Grand Challenge will require awesome off-road capability, a really rugged design, and a fusion of software, laser, and synthetic vision systems,” said Don Verhoff, Oshkosh’s executive vice president of technology. “We’re confident in our technology and hopeful about our chances to win.”
The DARPA Grand Challenge is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense’s think tank for future technology, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). No vehicle successfully completed this race last year – the first year the race took place. This year’s race will be webcast live at www.grandchallenge.org.
The platform for TerraMax is Oshkosh’s MTVR combat vehicle, which was originally designed for the U.S. Marine Corps to handle off-road terrain. Drive-by-wire technology allows computers to control the steering via a servo motor, an actuator to operate the brakes, and direct electronic control of the accelerator and transmission.
Five ruggedized computers control the main functions needed for TerraMax to drive and navigate itself. The computers run on software that Rockwell Collins developed for map and route planning, driving, obstacle detection and avoidance, sensor data input and interpretation, and diagnostics. Sensing systems, including laser range finders and digital video cameras, provide the inputs that TerraMax needs to detect roadways and avoid obstacles.