Stratom, a prominent developer specializing in autonomous ground vehicles and robotic systems, has been chosen to spearhead the development of the SALT (Small Agile Lift Truck) prototype.
As per the official company announcement, this cutting-edge vehicle aims to streamline Air Force aerial stores and munition loading operations, bolstering safety measures and boosting adaptability.
The SALT represents a forward-thinking approach, leveraging an all-electric, autonomy-ready design. Crafted as a replacement for the dated MJ-1 lift truck from the 1950s, this modernized solution aligns seamlessly with both current fifth-generation fighters and forthcoming flight-line operations.
The company stated in a press release that it enables Air Force personnel to maneuver and operate the vehicle using a wired remote, significantly reducing the workforce required for munitions and aerial store loading and unloading activities.
Jesse Weifenbach, Stratom’s lead vehicle systems engineer, highlighted the challenges posed by the outdated MJ-1 platform, emphasizing its struggle to interface effectively with fifth-generation fighter aircraft, leading to delays in loading times. Weifenbach expressed enthusiasm for SALT’s multimodal driving capabilities, emphasizing efforts to advance electrification within unique autonomous vehicles.
The lightweight SALT platform presents numerous advantages, including superior maneuverability, offering three times more driving options than the MJ-1. Additionally, its transition to all-electric power aligns with the Air Force’s plans for future electrification, departing from the current gas-powered MJ-1.
Future iterations of SALT are projected to integrate full autonomy, enabling alignment assistance and autonomous loading functionalities. Stratom secured the SALT development contract through its partner MilTech, an authorized national government partnership intermediary, collaborating on technology development projects aimed at meeting the evolving operational needs of the U.S. government.
Mark Gordon, President of Stratom, highlighted the company’s extensive experience in Defense projects and autonomous systems development, emphasizing their commitment to enhancing the Air Force’s technological capabilities and addressing the ever-evolving operational demands of their clientele.