Despite race-ending mishap, TerraMax impresses Urban Challenge observers
By PATRICIA KIME, Seapower Correspondent
TerraMax was the only robot in
the competition that remotely resembled a tactical vehicle. Constructed from the chassis of the
same Medium Tactical Vehicle
Replacement (MTVR) truck used
by the Marine Corps, TerraMax is a
4x4 truck with two axles and a 21-
foot turning radius.
Other competing bots were
built from sports utility vehicles,
sports cars and family sedans.
“Autonomous technology is in
our future; even in the near term, it
can help us assist our drivers with
the operation of vehicles on the battlefield,” Brig. Gen.
James Chambers, Army chief of transportation, said as
he visited the competitors’ pits.
TerraMax sees and senses by using a complex camera
vision system; a light detection and ranging system, or
The 13-ton autonomous TerraMax is based on the same chassis used
for the Marine Corps’ Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement truck.
■ TerraMax, the largest vehicle in the Urban Challenge, is a 4x4
truck with two axles and a 21-foot turning radius.
■ It is able to maneuver using a complex camera vision system
and several sensors.
■ Oshkosh is developing the vehicle’s modular capabilities in kit
form, so it can be installed on its own vehicles or onto existing trucks.
The third robot to go astray in the finals of a
Pentagon-sponsored autonomous vehicle race
currently holds the most promise for U.S. military use, according to Defense Department and industry officials.
The 13-ton TerraMax vehicle, built by Oshkosh
Truck Corp. of Oshkosh, Wis., was a crowd favorite
during the 60-mile Urban Challenge, a competition
sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Project
Agency (DARPA) and held Oct. 26-Nov. 3 at the former George Air Force Base in Victorville, Calif.
The chartreuse behemoth, with an on-road carrying
capacity of 15 tons, was the largest robot vehicle in the
field of 11, and it maneuvered deftly through the contest’s preliminary tests, parking correctly, obeying
California driving laws and negotiating a narrow road
flanked by parked cars that flummoxed other robots.
But when it veered off course an hour into the final
competition, nearly plowing into a long-closed base
exchange, spectators — and the Oshkosh Team —
clearly were disappointed.
“The end-game is to apply this technology to vehicles in the field. We will learn from this event and
move forward,” said Gary Schmiedel, vice president of
advanced project engineering at Oshkosh.
Oshkosh Truck Corp.’s TerraMax autonomous vehicle prepares to leave the chute during the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency-sponsored Urban Challenge. TerraMax holds the most promise for U.S. military use, although it
went off course during the competition and was shut down.