The Cargo UGV project was initiated in 2010 with the aim of developing and experimenting with advanced autonomous
vehicles capable of being integrated unobtrusively into manned logistics convoys. The intent was to validate two
hypotheses in complex, operationally representative environments: first, that unmanned tactical wheeled vehicles
provide a force protection advantage by creating standoff distance to warfighters during ambushes or improvised
explosive device attacks; and second, that these UGVs serve as force multipliers by enabling a single operator to control
multiple unmanned assets.
To assess whether current state-of-the-art autonomous vehicle technology was sufficiently capable to permit resupply
missions to be executed with decreased risk and reduced manpower, and to assess the effect of UGVs on customary
convoy tactics, the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory and the Joint Ground Robotics Enterprise sponsored Oshkosh
Defense and the National Robotics Engineering Center to equip two standard Marine Corps cargo trucks for autonomous
This paper details the system architecture, hardware implementation, and software modules developed to meet the
vehicle control, perception, and planner requirements compelled by this application. Additionally, the design of a
custom human machine interface and an accompanying training program are described, as is the creation of a realistic
convoy simulation environment for rapid system development.
Finally, results are conveyed from a warfighter experiment in which the effectiveness of the training program for novice
operators was assessed, and the impact of the UGVs on convoy operations was observed in a variety of scenarios via
direct comparison to a fully manned convoy.