Clarksburg, Maryland-based Robotic Research will begin testing fully autonomous and unmanned low-speed shuttles in the second quarter of this year.
Launched in 2002, Robotic Research provides robotic technology for commercial and government autonomous operations. The company plans to begin the autonomous vehicle testing with no onboard attendants, but with attendants at onsite locations.
“Through our work with the U.S. government over the past four years, we have already demonstrated that fully autonomous trucks are a reality,” said Robotic Research President Alberto Lacaze in a statement. “We are committed to making our shuttle and bus manufacturing partners successful by accelerating state-of-the-art technologies for unmanned vehicles ahead of regulatory agencies’ progress.”
Two autonomous vehicles will initially be tested at Robotic Research’s facility in Clarksburg. The vehicles will be able to drive up to 15 mph. Eventually, the company’s goal is to have attendants monitor the autonomous shuttles for safety from an offsite facility.
Currently, Robotic Research provides its AutoDrive autonomy kits “that fully automate logistics convoy trucks” for its government entities and partners. The company reports that nearly 100 trucks are equipped with its automation tech, which has been tested for safety without onboard attendants, but with a single operator monitoring multiple vehicles at a time.
“The level of safety certification and redundancy necessary to drive fully autonomous vehicles is a significant undertaking that needs to be designed from the top down,” Lacaze said. “The advancements driven by the Robotic Research team will provide a product that significantly reduces the cost of operation and therefore improves market size.”
This new autonomous vehicle testing comes after Robotic Research received a $16.5 million order to supply its warfighter localization sensor units to the U.S. Army. Back in November, the company was also granted a permit by the Maryland Department of Transportation to operate an autonomous Olli shuttle in Maryland’s Montgomery County. Olli electronic shuttles are driven by Robotic Research’s autonomous AutoDrive software and hardware tech.