Oshkosh Unveils Driver-Assist Systems for Military Trucks

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If Oshkosh Corp. has its way, military trucks will soon feature driver-assist safety systems similar to those found on commercial vehicles, from the BWM X5 to the Ford Focus.

Just a bigger, more intense system.

The Oshkosh, Wisconsin-based truck-maker on Monday unveiled the Oshkosh Surround View and Forward Collision Warning Systems on a version of its blast-resistant truck, known as the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicle, or M-ATV — a hulking, 25,000-pound vehicle built to better protect troops from roadside bombs in Afghanistan.

“Troop safety is the highest concern regardless of the military duty performed,” John Urias, president of the company’s defense unit, said in a statement. “Reducing vehicle accidents large and small translates into a more productive force and significant cost savings for the Department of Defense.”

The driver-assist technology, introduced at the annual Association of the United States Army conference in Washington, D.C., includes several cameras mounted on the top and rear of the vehicle, two electronic displays inside the cab, a flashing warning-light beneath the windshield and — as if the blinking lightsaber-like beam on the front glass wasn’t enough — a vibration device beneath the seat.

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John Beck, a chief engineer at Oshkosh who helped develop the company’s TerraMax unmanned ground vehicle, said the forward-collision warning system uses a special type of camera that incorporates a computer processor running software designed to detect people, animals and other obstacles in the roadway or path.

He declined to specify the supplier of the product, but said it’s used by many companies in the automotive industry.

For the surround-view system, drivers can press a button on the center console to toggle between cameras. (This reporter couldn’t resist clicking to check out the view from behind the truck — a nice shot of the trade show floor). The entire system can be expanded to accommodate more cameras and functionality, he said.

Oshkosh_surround_view_system

Beck also declined to say how much the kit would cost, but it’s probably in the range of a few thousand dollars — a fraction of the overall cost of the trucks.

The Defense Department spent nearly $50 billion over the past decade to acquire some 25,000 MRAPs made by several firms. The trucks weigh 25,000– to 50,000 pounds and feature V-shaped hulls that deflected blasts outward. The rapid-acquisition effort was spearheaded by then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

While thousands of MRAPs have since been scrapped, mothballed or handed down to local police departments, the U.S. military expects to keep several thousand of them in the tactical wheeled vehicle fleet and transfer thousands more to foreign governments. The Army has awarded some contracts to upgrade, or refurbish, some of the gun trucks and ambulance trucks it plans to keep in the fleet.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • Smith

    About time they make a backup camera

  • Doc

    Seriously, instead of scrapping them in Afghanistan and then replacing them at great expense, why can they not be stored. Can’t these things be converted to remote operation? They would make a great Peshmurga Taxi ROV if combined with air support. And if they were flown into the theater, is it impossible to fly them out at a reasonable cost?

    Domestic police use should be internationally prohibited. This is an anti-democratic dictator’s tool.

    • blight_qwerty

      They were flown in at a cost to protect American lives. As no American lives are directly protected by leaving them in Afghanistan, the cost of flying them home is calculated as prohibitive. The vehicles that are deadlined and due for costly maintenance are the ones most likely to be scrapped. The ones with the least miles or most recently reconditioned are the ones most likely to be flown home, or sent elsewhere.

      • blight_qwerty

        We could also sell them to Middle Eastern dictators like Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, who may need to use them against their people in the near future. Arming dictators is what we do well.

        • blight_qwerty

          We could fly them to Diego Garcia and store them there. A few relay trips to Diego might be cheaper than flying them back to CONUS. Or storing them in Australia or the Middle East, even.

          • commenter

            Flying them anywhere is prohibitive. They just weigh too much to be flown at any economical rate (either cost or in terms of time to get it done).

            Sea shipment is the only way to transport them at any reasonable cost. Rail is probably viable as well.

            Logistically, they are also a bit of a nightmare compared to other vehicle types. In order to get them fast, DoD took a large range of different vehicle types from different manufacturers. It was a trade off that made sense at the time. However, each needs a separate logistics footprint to maintain (spares, trained crews, etc.) which drives the operational costs up.

            Giving to local police departments is a terrible idea. First, they don’t need them for anything. Second, MRAPs are not good “vehicles” in that they are roll over prone, overweight for most roads, and expensive to operate. They are excellent at what they do, but that’s not driving police around on highways and local roads to serve search warrants.

  • JohnQ

    I agree that we might need them again. We always say we’re not going to fight an insurgency type war again, and then we end up doing it again. Store them in the desert so we have ’em when we next need ’em. As to how to transport them, how about sending them home by ship, not plane. Ship transport usually costs less than 1/10 of air transport. Convoy them to Karachi and put them on a boat there. If convoy is too dangerous, consider flying them the relatively short distance to Karachi, or some other port, and then shipping them home.

  • stephen russell

    Lisc for all trucks to use ( non military ones) IF Teamsters Open to Ideas.
    Save time, money & drivers lives alone
    Mass produce under Lisc

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