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Oshkosh Truck and Ohio State University Design Robotic Vehicle to Compete in Desert Race

OSHKOSH, Wis.--Feb. 1, 20041, 2004--

  Terramax Truck Challenges Frontier of Unmanned Vehicle Transportation  

Oshkosh Truck Corporation , a leading manufacturer of specialty trucks and truck bodies, and Ohio State University (OSU) have partnered to develop a self-navigating robotic vehicle that will compete in the Pentagon-sponsored $1 million DARPA Grand Challenge. The completely autonomous vehicle, known as Terramax, will traverse a rugged 250-mile Mojave Desert course in March between Los Angeles and Las Vegas without a driver or remote controls.

To navigate the cross-country course alone, the Terramax vehicle is equipped with highly complex sensing systems, a global position system, high-power computers and drive-by-wire technology. The vehicle will select a course based on a set of coordinates that are disclosed just two hours before race time to the final field of up to 20 race teams.

"We're excited and challenged by the possibility of developing the first unmanned vehicle to travel such a long distance without any human interface en route. The technologies incorporated into our robotic vehicle bring tremendous potential to influence the safety, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of both public transit and private vehicle transportation," said Robert G. Bohn, Oshkosh chairman, president and chief executive officer.

"The applications for this driverless technology are remarkable, particularly for the military, which is sponsoring this race," explained Don Verhoff, Oshkosh's executive vice president of technology. "Although design development may continue for years, the idea of a driverless convoy of defense vehicles to deliver supplies to the front line, never jeopardizing the welfare of a single driver, is closer than one might imagine."

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 OSU 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

Team Terramax from Oshkosh and OSU is comprised of more than 20 engineers, scientists and technicians. The team has been developing the Terramax truck since mid-2003. In addition, a research team from the University of Parma (Italy) has been working with OSU on problems related to "vision."

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.

The Grand Challenge

Under a Congressional mandate, DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, organized the Grand Challenge to reward advanced technology achievements, with the intent of fostering new and innovative solutions that may prove useful to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) initiatives in the future. DARPA is the prestigious research and development agency in DoD that has pioneered major technology and defense breakthroughs such as the Internet, Stealth aircraft, smart bombs and the pilotless Predator aircraft.

To learn more about the Grand Challenge, visit its web site at

Oshkosh Truck

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