Self-driving cars? How about a self-driving military convoy.
The US Army and Lockheed Martin recently put on a demonstration of a self-driving convoy of military trucks.
Or trucks: At a demonstration earlier this month at Fort Hood, in Texas, the Army and defense contractor Lockheed Martin showed off what they called a "fully autonomous" convoy of armored vehicles, which are aimed – as Lockheed Martin puts it – "at completely removing the Soldier from the cab."
In a press release, Lockheed Martin said that the trucks that had successfully passed a battery of tests that included "navigating hazards and obstacles such as road intersections, oncoming traffic, stalled and passing vehicles, pedestrians and traffic circles in both urban and rural test areas."
"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 Bernard Theisen, of the Army's Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center.
It's unclear when the trucks, which use LIDAR sensors and GPS units to help navigate, would actually enter active service.
In related news, Google has pressed ahead with plans to refine its driverless car technology. Most recently, the search giant announced it would lease a 60-acre tract of land in the Central Valley of California, which Google will use to "test and refine its self-driving car technology," according to local reports.
"If you look at the twentieth century, the car has transformed society more than pretty much any other invention," Google's Sebastian Thrun recently told Foreign Affairs. "But cars today are vastly unsafe. It's estimated that more than a million people die every years because of traffic accidents. And driving cars consumes immense amounts of time...if the car could drive itself, you could be much safer."