Autonomous systems developer Stratom has secured a contract with the US Army’s DEVCOM Ground Vehicle Systems Center to develop an autonomous ground vehicle refuelling (AGVR) prototype system.
Under the contract, Stratom will also work to integrate the AGVR prototype onto a palletised load system (PLS) flat rack for autonomous convoy operations.
“Convoys are the number one target overseas, which is why the army is exploring autonomous vehicles as a way to reduce the number of soldiers needed to run these operations,” said Mark Gordon, CEO of Stratom.
“It would be counter-productive to have humans manually refuelling unmanned vehicles and this is where Stratom’s expertise shines.”
The AGVR features both vision-sensing and detection systems and will be capable of autonomously locating the fuel port on the target vehicle.
Once the location has been determined, the fuelling tool head will engage the fuel port and begin the fuelling process. When the fuelling process has been completed, the arm will retract to its nominal position.
The system, which includes a fuel tank, generator, robotic arm, sensor technologies and a stack of computer equipment, will be able to refuel a PLS either from the ground or from the flat rack of another PLS from virtually any location on the convoy route.
According to Stratom, it is the only company delivering ground-based autonomous robotic refuelling solutions for aircraft and ground vehicles within the US Department of Defense.
Gordon added: “Our AGVR system is an impressive example of how autonomy in logistics can streamline operations, optimise resources and alleviate risks.
“By empowering humans to stay focused on high-level, mission-oriented, decision-making tasks – not the supporting functions of those tasks – our solution significantly increases project flexibility and cost-efficiency while also solving productivity and safety challenges.”
Stratom will demonstrate its AGVR prototype to the US Army this autumn.