Government and industry officials met at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar (MCAS Miramar) on Wednesday to tour and test the station’s new autonomous vehicle program.
MCAS Miramar is developing ways to make transportation more efficient, more accessible, and cheaper using self-driving cars as part of the Marine Corps’ Mobility Transformation effort, according to the U.S. Marine Corps.
"The Marine Corps always prides itself on being a service that’s willing to adapt and be able to change to new things," Col. Jason G. Woodworth, the commanding officer of MCAS Miramar, said.
Two projects were discussed this week.
The first is being facilitated by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSCPAC) and in collaboration with Qualcomm. It focuses on autonomous vehicle development and implementation in our society.
Due to MCAS Miramar’s location, Col. Woodworth explained that, "We have a unique opportunity, because we have a little bit of a city on one side and, out on the other side, we have a little bit of country, and this gives us a chance for different types of vehicles and different types of systems to be tested in one place."
The base plans to host numerous projects involving mobility transformation and energy security, resilience and innovation, according to the Marine Corps.
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The second project is planned for later in the year and partners with the state of California. It will look at the use of passenger vans for the station and the potential of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology.
V2G capabilities allow the vehicles to connect to the station’s microgrid and function as mobile batteries, according to the Marine Corps. This would prove useful for any power failures at the base.
It’s the first initiative by MCAS Miramar to merge autonomous vehicles and V2G technology, according to the Marine Corps.
“Miramar is leading the way in mobility transformation because of the projects that are about to begin here.” Col. Woodworth continued by claiming the program as “one of a kind.”
Testing started a few weeks ago, and Col. Woodworth hopes to see driverless shuttles running “in the next six to 12 months.”
The projects are in response to MCAS Miramar’s commitment to energy resilience and innovation and their desire to create local solutions.