Saturday, April 20, 2024

US Marines showcase tactical autonomy with robotic convoy

U.S. Marines, in collaboration with the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab and civilians, conducted an unmanned convoy using Expeditionary Modular Autonomous Vehicles (EMAV) during Exercise Apollo Shield.

The exercise took place at the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California, on October 21, 2023, and marked a significant milestone in the field of defense and security.

The EMAV convoy embarked on a 50-kilometer journey into the training area and back, showcasing the advanced autonomous capabilities of these tactical vehicles and their invaluable potential on the modern battlefield. The demonstration emphasized the adaptability and effectiveness of EMAV in various operational scenarios.


Pratt Miller, the designer and builder of EMAV, worked closely with a partner to develop the autonomy layer and advanced navigation capabilities of the vehicle. This collaboration has resulted in a high-mobility tracked unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) specifically designed to meet the demanding requirements of the U.S. Marine Corps.

EMAV offers the unique ability to operate autonomously, integrate seamlessly with various systems, and carry heavy payloads while maintaining a low profile, making it an ideal solution for Marine Corps operations. The vehicle’s hybrid-electric powertrain supports electric-only silent watch and silent mobility, enhancing its tactical versatility.

Photo by Aidan Jones

One of the standout features of the EMAV is its remarkable mobility. The continuous band track and low center of gravity enable it to navigate a 60% grade, a 40% side slope, and vertical steps up to 24 inches, providing the Marines with unprecedented maneuverability on challenging terrains.

Furthermore, the EMAV is designed with practicality in mind. It is compatible with multiple controllers, and its dimensions allow for transportation by various aircraft, including MV22, CH53, CH-47 internal transport, and up to two vehicles can be accommodated on a C-130. This flexibility makes EMAV a versatile and easily deployable asset for the Marine Corps.

The successful unmanned convoy during Exercise Apollo Shield highlights the Marine Corps’ commitment to exploring and integrating advanced technologies to enhance their operational capabilities.

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Executive Editor

About author:

Colton Jones
Colton Jones
Colton Jones is the deputy editor of Defence Blog. He is a US-based journalist, writer and publisher who specializes in the defense industry in North America and Europe. He has written about emerging technology in military magazines and elsewhere. He is a former Air Force airmen and served at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.