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There’s one thing missing from OshKosh Truck Co.’s new model: a driver! The lime-green TerraMax truck navigates traffic and avoids obstacles on the road without a human at the wheel.
But OshKosh isn’t trying to put professional drivers out of a job or make owner-operators obsolete. The vehicle is intended for military use only, and its creation was mandated by Congress to help save lives in combat. By 2015, one in three ground combat vehicles must be self-driving, in accordance with 2001 legislation. The reasoning is that without having to steer the vehicle, soldiers can concentrate on mapping routes and scanning for roadside bombs and enemy combatants. This makes convoy sizes smaller, and ultimately reduces the number of lives placed in danger.
The TerraMax can haul five tons off-road, handle 60 percent grades and 30 percent side slopes, and has a 21 ft. turning radius. It’s powered by a 425-hp Cat C-12 engine. In field testing, the vehicle has barreled down dusty roads, dodged road barriers and even waited obediently for traffic at four-way intersections. Next stop: saving lives.