Road Logistics

Unmanned Tow Vehicles to Operate at the Defense Logistics Agency’s Storage Units

If there’s one industry sector that could really benefit from the use of unmanned vehicles, that’s the storage sector. When you think about all the operations that are performed on a daily basis and all that heavy cargo that needs to be moved around, it’s no wonder that autonomous vehicles seem like the perfect idea. And this is what the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) probably thinks too, because it just awarded Robotic Research a contract for developing an unmanned Autonomous Guided Vehicle (AGV).

This project is a fresh one, so we don’t know yet what the prototype of this vehicle looks like. But we do know that, if all goes well, no less than 100 of them will be helping out the DLA. And it could use some help, considering that it’s responsible for 20 storage sites with over 570 warehouses.

This new unmanned vehicle’s main mission would be to tow loaded carts inside and outside of warehouses and it could help commercial companies too, not just the military sector, helping them not only reduce costs, but also improve efficiency and safety. Either way, performing this type of autonomous operations in and between warehouses would be a technological premiere, according to the company.

So, what are some of the DLA’s requirements for this project? The future AGV is planned to have a heavy build and a towing capacity of 18,000 lbs (over 8,000 kg). It should also be able to climb steep slopes (12% inclination) and turn tight corners. When it operates indoors, it should be able to do so without GPS guidance, and when it’s on the road it has to withstand bad weather conditions or unfavorable road conditions. And, of course, it needs to operate safely around people and other cars.

In order to do so, the AGV will be equipped with Robotic Research’s universal autonomous solution, the Stock Handling Autonomous Robotic Kit (SHARK). This complex system will use AI, a mix of sensors, safety-assist features and GPS-denied localization technologies, to guide the tow vehicle.

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