Micro Systems has developed an innovative Leader/Follower technology that allows manned and unmanned vehicles to perform cooperatively in tactical convoy operations using our Multi-Platform Appliqué Kit (M-PAK). The M-PAK system is used in convoy operations to prevent accidents, lower vehicle operating costs, and eliminate the need for expensive armor plating and bulky driver protection systems and can be installed in almost any military vehicle.
The system uses velocity, heading, and position information transmitted from a manned Leader vehicle to the unmanned Follower vehicles over a dedicated radio link. The system is radio link independent, so any communication link can be used to transmit the data. During convoy operations, the Leader vehicle transmits its own velocity, heading, and position information to the Follower vehicles using data packet messages called eCrumbs (short for “electronic breadcrumbs”). The eCrumbs are transmitted at a rate of two messages per second to let the Follower vehicles know precisely where the Leader is as it travels along its intended route. The M-PAK system is able to operate in urban environments, mountainous areas, inside tunnels, through heavy foliage, etc., and can also operate in harsh weather conditions such as rain, snow, sand, and dust.
One of the major advantages of the M-PAK Leader/Follower system is that the Followers do not need to know about the environment around them, or even about their own physics of motion. The Follower vehicles only need to know what the Leader does at each eCrumb and then do the same thing when they get there. In this way, the safe operation of all vehicles is assured by the human driver in the Leader vehicle.
The following is a list of several key concepts for the M-PAK convoy system:
- Up to four Follower vehicles can be included in an M-PAK convoy.
- Each vehicle follows the Leader’s path, not the vehicle in front of it.
- Convoy speeds can range from 0 MPH to 60 MPH.
- Vehicle gaps are automatically set according to vehicle speed and user requirements.
- Gaps between vehicles remain equidistant during steady speed convoy Operations.