Home Machine Control & Robotics Stratom Advances Autonomous Pallet Loader for U.S. Marine Corps

Stratom Advances Autonomous Pallet Loader for U.S. Marine Corps

by IAV Staff
Autonomous Pallet Loader (APL). Image: Stratom.

Stratom has announced the next phase in the development of its Autonomous Pallet Loader (APL), aimed at enhancing support for the U.S. Marine Corps. This stage focuses on refining the technology following successful prior demonstrations and integrating Stratom’s Summit autonomy software into the APL system.

The APL, a rugged autonomous forklift, is engineered to operate in challenging terrains and handle large volumes of supplies efficiently. It represents a significant improvement over traditional material handling equipment (MHE) in terms of safety, weight, and operational efficiency, contributing to reduced aircraft fuel consumption and less need for operational personnel by incorporating advanced robotic and autonomous technologies.

Mark Gordon, president of Stratom, emphasized the strategic importance of the APL in military logistics, stating, “This contract allows us to continue optimizing the APL platform for autonomous operations, including pallet pickup, dropoff, and transport at the tactical edge—in harsh and remote locations. Our key focuses are achieving weight savings and autonomy enhancements to enable aircraft transportability and ultimately free Marines to focus on mission-critical tasks.”

The APL’s development targets include hardware design improvements for better performance and durability, weight reduction, and enhancements to ensure flight certification readiness. Additionally, the integration of the Summit software is expected to extend the system’s autonomous capabilities, such as waypoint navigation, obstacle avoidance, and cargo handling.

Andrew Lycas, principal roboticist at Stratom, highlighted the flexibility of the Summit software, saying, “Summit’s exceptionally configurable and modular autonomy architecture allows us to easily integrate advanced behaviors like waypoint navigation, obstacle avoidance, cargo pickup and dropoff, cross-docking, embarkation, and geofencing adherence. This inherent versatility enables the APL to tackle a wide range of contested logistics missions requiring autonomous heavy payload handling in complex, GPS-denied environments, further bolstering the military’s logistical capabilities.”

The APL has also garnered significant industry attention, being named the UGV Solution of the Year in the 2022 SupplyTech Breakthrough Awards program. Its utility has piqued the interest of multiple branches of the U.S. military, including USTRANSCOM, USCENTCOM, the Air Force, and the Army, for various autonomous resupply and cargo movement tasks.

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