Looking like a cross between a WW II jeep and something from Mad Max, the Marine Corps’ Internally Transportable Vehicle (ITV) is the epitome of utilitarian. Designed to be airlifted by a Chinook or Osprey, it is a go anywhere, do anything vehicle that is as tough as it looks.
According to Ars Tecbnica, a partnership composed of the US Naval Surface Warfare Centre Dahlgren Division, Virginia Tech University and TORC Robotics has converted one of these beasts of burden into a fully autonomous vehicle capable of moving without a driver at speeds up to 8 mph. The ITV is fitted with TORC Robotics’ Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate (GUSS) system, which was also employed in the 2010 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) war games.
The objective is to reduce the risk to Marines in dangerous environments and to allow wounded fighters to be evacuated to safety across any terrain. The little ITV has a carrying capacity of 1600 lbs – the same as an F 250. It can follow a soldier equipped with an electronic beacon or it can be remotely controlled from a short distance away. If necessary, a human driver can get in and drive it manually after disabling the autonomous system with the flip of a switch.
The autonomous ITV is never going to win any beauty contests, but if it makes hostilities safer for our troops it will have fulfilled its mission. In the military world, that’s all that matters.