Leading vehicle automation provider, ABD Solutions, has launched Indigo Drive, a software eco-system that enables any defence vehicle to be quickly and cost-effectively automated.
Indigo Drive can significantly improve the safety of personnel by removing the requirement for drivers in dangerous situations, such as IED route clearance and logistics supply. Research shows that 52% of casualties in combat zones can be attributed to logistics and personnel delivering core supplies and that nearly 50% of US soldiers killed in operation between 2010 and 2020 were caused by IEDs.
“Our solution is unique in that it is vehicle-agnostic and retrofittable, this enables any existing land vehicle to be automated,” said Matthew Price, Managing Director of ABD Solutions. “This allows more personnel to be removed from dangerous situations, significantly increasing safety. On top of this, instead of driving, personnel can focus on much more valuable operational activities, allowing soldiers to be soldiers.”
Secure and certified, as a comprehensive system, Indigo Drive contains everything needed to create driverless fleets. From a user-friendly software interface for route-planning to the technology needed to create movement (such as drive-by-wire and driving robots), to communication (Radio, V2X, GPS/GNSS), obstacle detection (LiDAR, camera, radar) and vehicle health and diagnostics (OBD2, telemetry, sensors), what’s included can be tailored around the specific vehicles and environments.
The modular architecture allows for easy integration with systems already in use, such as fleet management software, meaning creating driverless fleets can be faster and smoother than ever before.
As well as increasing safety, automation reduces emissions and fuel consumption, which has a direct impact on the number of supply operations required. It also provides tactical advantages, such as running in the dark without the use of lights.
Price adds, “We work with our customers to provide tailored solutions for their environment by assessing the level and type of automation required enabling fleet transformation without investment in new vehicles, maximising the return on existing high-value assets.”
The hardware used to provide automation requires only minor modifications to the vehicle and is semi-permanent, allowing it to be moved from one vehicle to another should requirements change or if the vehicle needs maintenance. The equipment is non-intrusive to allow a driver to take control while it is fitted, significantly increasing the vehicle’s operational flexibility.
In a defence environment where tasks are often repetitive, the entire fleet can be synchronised to maximise productivity and efficiency. Task planning software ensures that all the vehicles take the most efficient route, reducing fuel consumption and the time to complete the operation. Vehicles that have the ability to detect obstructions can communicate them to the fleet management system to prevent others from encountering the same issue. Once the obstruction has been flagged the vehicle management system can generate an alternative route or a human can remote into the vehicle to immediately assess the situation.
A critical indirect benefit of vehicle autonomy is the digitisation of information from the vehicle. It creates new data streams that are invaluable to fleet operators. The vehicle’s speed, location, fuel level, diagnostic status, distance to target etc can all be relayed via the vehicle management toolset. Data analytics can automatically process this information to assist with operational decisions, fleet maintenance scheduling and logistics planning.
ABD Solutions used Indigo Drive to create the world’s first automated Wolfhound Tactical Support Vehicle (TSV). It was created in collaboration with NP Aerospace, an engineering authority for the UK MOD protected mobility fleet. The vehicle was demonstrated earlier this year at a defence technology innovation day held at the HORIBA-MIRA proving ground in the UK.
With sales and technical support offices across three continents, ABD Solutions is a global operation. It is a member of the AB Dynamics Group and benefits from its knowledge of developing and supplying thousands of driving robots to the world’s leading vehicle manufacturers, proving grounds and regulatory authorities. The Group has decades of experience in vehicle autonomy and simulation.
“The AB Dynamics Group has been automating vehicles in one way or another for development and test purposes for decades,” continues Price. “Now, through ABD Solutions and the development of Indigo Drive, the defence industry can take advantage of this expertise to automate their existing fleets today.”
ABD Solutions will be showcasing Indigo Drive at DVD2022, one of Europe’s leading defence exhibitions, at UTAC Millbrook, UK, on September 21st - 22nd (Stand C3-413).