Oshkosh Truck's Robotic Truck Qualifies for Pentagon's $1 Million Desert Race


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OSHKOSH, Wis.--March 12, 2004--

  TerraMax Truck, One of Just Seven Vehicles to Complete Obstacle Course, Is First Large Vehicle to Operate Autonomously over a Significant Distance  



Oshkosh Truck Corporation , a leading manufacturer of specialty trucks and truck bodies, today announced its robotic truck, known as TerraMax, qualified late yesterday to compete in the $1 million DARPA Grand Challenge, a robotic race across the Mojave Desert sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense's internal think tank for future technology, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

TerraMax was one of just seven vehicles to complete the 1.3-mile qualifying obstacle course at the California Speedway in Fontana, east of Los Angeles. As a result, it will be one of 15 approved vehicles to begin the DARPA-sponsored race, which will begin early tomorrow morning near Barstow, Calif. The TerraMax truck operates without a driver or remote controls, using a guidance system based on high-powered computers, a sophisticated global positioning system, radar, laser range-finders and newly developed software programs.

"This is an unprecedented moment for Oshkosh Truck and our partners from Ohio State University," said Robert G. Bohn, chairman, president and CEO, Oshkosh Truck Corporation. "With a payload of more than seven tons off-road, our TerraMax truck is the first large vehicle to successfully operate autonomously over a significant distance. We're very excited to go to the starting line tomorrow, but this has already been a victory for us. Our vehicle's performance thus far speaks to the exceptional caliber of our development team."

Team TerraMax is now headed to Barstow, Calif., which will serve as the starting point for tomorrow's historic unmanned race across the desert toward Primm, Nev., near Las Vegas.

"We always believed that successfully competing in the Grand Challenge would require the whole package - awesome off-road capability, a really rugged design and a fusion of software, laser, radar and global-positioning systems to make this happen," said Don Verhoff, executive vice president of technology, Oshkosh Truck Corporation. "It took months of hard work by dozens of people, and many sleepless nights, but successfully navigating the qualifying course yesterday shows that we're definitely on the right track."

The DARPA Grand Challenge begins on Saturday, March 13 at 6:30 a.m. Pacific Time. The final field of 15 teams, whittled down from 25, will receive course coordinates just two hours before race time. The information will then be programmed into TerraMax before it heads to the starting line. Team TerraMax will be starting in the 12th position.

The race will be Webcast live at www.grandchallenge.org

The TerraMax Vehicle

The platform for TerraMax is Oshkosh's combat-proven Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement, which was originally designed for the U.S. Marine Corps to handle off-road terrain. The vehicle's 6x6 design is equipped with independent suspension to make rocks, dips, holes and crevasses easier to handle. Drive-by-wire technology allows computers to control the steering via a servomotor, an actuator to operate the brakes, and direct electronic control of the accelerator and transmission.

Six high-powered computers control the main functions needed for TerraMax to drive and navigate itself. The computers run on specialized software that the Ohio State University team developed for map and route planning, driving, obstacle detection and avoidance, sensor data input and interpretation, and diagnostics. Sensing systems, including radar, laser range finders, sonar, and digital video cameras provide the inputs TerraMax needs to "see" and avoid obstacles.

Team TerraMax is sponsored by Michelin, Parker Hannifin, Fastenal, Rockwell Automation, Honda/OSU Partnership, Caterpillar, Arvin Meritor, Raytheon, Sikkens, Bosch, Dana, Bendix, Novatel, Transpro, Transportation Research Center, MCL, U.S. Oil, Gordon Aluminum, Fleet Guard and others.

Oshkosh Truck Corporation is a leading manufacturer of specialty trucks and truck bodies for the defense, fire and emergency, concrete placement and refuse hauling markets. Oshkosh Truck is a Fortune 1000 company with products marketed under the Oshkosh(R), Pierce(R), McNeilus(R), Medtec(R), Geesink and Norba brand names. The company is headquartered in Oshkosh, Wis., and had annual sales of $1.9 billion in fiscal 2003.

To learn more about Oshkosh Truck Corporation, visit its Web site at www.oshkoshtruckcorporation.com or visit www.oshkoshtruck.com/darpa to learn more about Team TerraMax, the truck and its technologies.

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