Using autonomous technology to protect our soldiers

January 11, 2022


We take a human-centered approach to innovation, always putting the people who use our products at the center of everything we do. We work closely with our customers to understand and help them solve the challenges they face. By combining our industry-leading technology, operational strength and powerful team we deliver innovation that empowers people every day to do their jobs safer and more efficiently.

One of the ways we are doing this is through our partnership with the U.S. Army’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC) and an industry team including Oshkosh Defense, Robotic Research and DCS Corporation on the Expedient Leader-Follower (ExLF) project. This collaboration allows us to apply next generation defense technologies and advanced systems to our vehicles to meet their evolving requirements and modernization needs.




Autonomous technology is becoming increasingly more important. Our applications of autonomous technology in the ExLF project enable a series of unmanned vehicles to “follow” a single manned lead vehicle while operating in contested areas of operation. Leader-Follower technology serves to remove Soldiers from at-risk vehicles in often-targeted convoy routes. It can help save Soldiers’ lives and requires fewer people to do the same amount of work. This autonomous technology creates a more efficient means for moving cargo while freeing up more Soldiers to do other important work.

The U.S. Army selected the Palletized Load System (PLS) by Oshkosh Defense, an industry leader in purpose-built vehicles, technology solutions and mobility systems, to be the first of the tactical fleet to field this technology.

Inside the Leader Follower Program vehicle in action with no operator

Autonomous technology in action

Expedient Leader-follower (ExLF) vehicles in action

Expedient Leader-Follower (ExLF) project



We make autonomous operation possible by using robotic perception technologies to understand and classify different objects in various environments.

“For a robot to operate as well as a human, it needs to be able to perceive the world and understand these different conditions,” said John Beck, Director of Unmanned Systems for Oshkosh Corporation. “By combining the strengths of one sensor to accommodate the weaknesses of another, we are capable of operating in a variety of different environments.”

We use best-in-class sensing technologies, such as radar and light detection and ranging (LIDAR), to gather rich data to train novel machine learning algorithms to identify and distinguish objects in a vehicle’s path. Their unique capability permits the autonomy system to negotiate environments intelligently and competently. This includes driving uninhibited on open ground, selecting appropriate speeds on slopes, grades and rough terrain, and avoiding hazardous obstacles while ignoring vegetation and heavy dust.

“A radar is very good at seeing through dust, smoke and rain,” Beck continued. “With LIDAR, we are capable of detecting the ground surface and other objects with high precision so that we can control the vehicle confidently in complex environments.”

Soldier inside an operating defense vehicle

The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

With a portfolio of connected companies sharing efficiencies and new ideas, we’re prototyping autonomous applications in almost every industry we serve, including access equipment, defense, fire & emergency, refuse hauling, concrete placement as well as airport services. We take advantage of every opportunity to promote operator safety and customer efficiency without sacrificing vehicle performance in mission-critical settings. At Oshkosh Corporation, our vehicles are designed to help users overcome some of the harshest, most extreme environments on the planet. The safety of our everyday heroes means everything to us. We engineer new possibilities to make a difference in the lives of people who count on us to do their critical work each day.

Visit our Autonomy and Active Safety web page to learn more about autonomous technology at Oshkosh Corporation.