Autonomous vehicle testing begins on MCAS Miramar
By 1st Lt. Casey Littesy, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
MCAS MARIMAR, Calif. -- Federal, state and local government stakeholders along with industry representatives met to discuss regional and Marine Corps autonomous vehicle proving grounds, to watch autonomous vehicles begin testing, and to tour the installation at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, Feb. 21.
The representatives came from the San Diego Association of Governments, California Department of Motor Vehicles, California Department of Transportation, California Energy Commission, California Highway Patrol, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSCPAC), Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., and MCAS Miramar.
MCAS Miramar, as a part of the Marine Corps’ Mobility Transformation effort, is exploring innovative options to make transportation smarter, cheaper, more accessible and more efficient. This initiative seeks to engage industry stakeholders, collect market research, execute and analyze demonstrations catered to installation characteristics, and share information to enable installations to create local solutions.
“We hope to be able to integrate these types of systems into our combat forces and into our garrison forces and that they will allow us to bring broader and more diverse technology to the Marine Corps and the military,” said Col. Jason G. Woodworth, commanding officer of MCAS Miramar.
MCAS Miramar is scheduled to host a number of projects that will showcase the installation’s commitment to mobility transformation, energy security, resilience and innovation.
A collaborative agreement facilitated by SSCPAC in San Diego initiated the first project. In this project MCAS Miramar will facilitate autonomous vehicle testing by industry stakeholders, to include Qualcomm Technologies.
“Qualcomm is very pleased to be collaborating with Miramar on the research and development for technologies we believe are necessary for the automotive industry of the future,” said Paul Guckian, vice president of engineering for Qualcomm Technologies.
Two routes on the air station, a “rural” and “urban” route, will provide opportunities for stakeholders to initiate autonomous vehicle testing and development projects. The rural route is located on East Miramar where autonomous vehicle technology testing began early February 2018.
The second project, born of a partnership between the Marine Corps and the state, is planned for later this year. It will pilot the use of autonomous vehicles including electric, autonomous vehicles that are also vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capable. This program will assess the feasibility of autonomous vehicles as a means of transportation for official and personal use on the air station and the effectiveness of V2G technology.
Two autonomous, electric 15-passenger vans will follow the preprogrammed, “urban” route, which will cover the installation’s most frequented locations in the morning, afternoon and evening. When not operating on the preprogrammed schedule, the two vans will be available on-demand along the route.
In addition to testing autonomous driving technology, the vans will be V2G capable, which means they can connect to the air station’s microgrid via a bi-directional electric-vehicle charging station. While parked and plugged in to the charging station, the vans can function as mobile batteries. If the commercial electric grid supporting MCAS Miramar failed and a building connected to the air station’s microgrid required electricity, that power could be pulled from the van’s stored energy. This demonstration supports MCAS Miramar’s commitment to energy resilience by testing technology that will allow our facilities to continue to operate if energy supplies are compromised. This is the first pilot of its kind to combine autonomous vehicle and V2G technology.