Autonomous vehicle: first follow-up demonstration in an interoperable military convoy

On January 28 janvier, 2021, VEDECOM brought together, on behalf of the Battle Lab Terre, several French industry leaders in Defense.


The aim: to implement an autonomous convoy of vehicles using a ‘multi-Follow Me’ mode behind a leading vehicle. The long-term perspective is to deploy interoperable autonomous convoys in theaters of operations while integrating the constraints of the Defense industry.


Project partners: NEXTER Robotics, ARQUUS and CNIM.

An unprecedented partnership launched just after the Land Battle inauguration

VEDECOM was commissioned as a trusted third party and expert R&D French Institute on the subject of autonomous and electric vehicles. As a matter of fact, this Institute for Energy Transition is located in Versailles, in the Satory district, very clos from the army and its suppliers Nexter and Arquus.

Its platforms and research teams are dedicated to vehicule electrification, automated and connected vehicles, new mobility solutions. Located at the heart of the “cluster of innovative mobility” supported by the Yvelines couty, not far from Paris, VEDECOM runs a large ecosystem, integrating Nexter and Arquus. A consortium between the VEDECOM research institute,

VEDECOM Tech (business subsidiary)and the industrialists NEXTER Robotics, ARQUUS and CNIM has been set up. This joint project, entitled MC² for “Micro-convoy in contact”, was coordinated by VEDECOM Tech team.

VEDECOM Tech (business subsidiary) and the industrialists NEXTER Robotics, ARQUUS and CNIM has been set up. This joint project, entitled MC² for “Micro-convoy in contact”, was coordinated by VEDECOM Tech team.

The role of VEDECOM Tech first, to coordinate all the actors to set up an interoperable convoy and second, to carry out the dynamic assessment of the convoy. The aim is to objectify the behavior of each vehicle in the convoy, to rule on the state of the art and to address key point improvements.

After the technological development, the project was materialized with a demonstration in front of representatives of the Army and the State. This was held on January 28, 2021 on the test tracks of Versailles-Satory.


Various vehicles and robots united by “Follow-me” technology

The convoy used four types of vehicles:

  • a Sherpa Light, the leading vehicle, provided by Arquus,
  • following was the Robot-LAB, on a PVP basis, provided by Arquus
  • then the Optio robot-mule, provided by Nexter Robotics
  • then a Themis 4.5 robot-Mule, provided by CNIM

The three following vehicles were equipped with technological bricks called “Follow Me”, allowing each robot to follow the vehicle in front of it, the “target vehicle”. In the case of a “multi-follow Me” convoy, each robot virtually harnesses itself and autonomously adapts its trajectory and speed in order to form the convoy. Thus, each vehicle builds its own trajectory.

A distinction must be made between “Follow me” technology and traditional ‘platooning’, a term used for autonomous convoys when all the vehicles replay the same trajectory (for example through a GPS track), with a speed setpoint managed globally.

Interoperable and interchangeable convoy

The MC² project aims to demonstrate interoperability in to ways: heterogeneity of vehicles and interchangeability of robots in the convoy.

Regarding the heterogeneity of vehicles, the convoy combined both an 11-tonne 4*4 tactical vehicle, capable of traveling at 110km/h, a 5.5-tonne 4*4 reconnaissance vehicle that can ride up to 20km/h and 2 multipurpose 2-ton tracked robot mules capable of traveling at 18km/h.

Two convoy configurations were implemented to demonstrate the ability of robots to couple to different vehicles.


Dynamic evaluation

VEDECOM Tech used Ultra Wide Band (UWB) technologIn to assess the convoy dynamic behavior. The vehicle movement area has been defined and equipped with geolocated fixed transmitters called “anchors”. The vehicles were fitted with embedded captors so that they could position in the frame of reference formed by the anchors. All location data was recorded in real time.

The post-processing makes it possible to characterize the dynamic behavior of the convoy:

  • speed of each vehicle
  • interdistance between vehicles
  • lateral deviation from the path of the robots


Ruling the French state of the art and increasing the forces’safety

In France, this event marks the first stage in the development of interoperable platooning convoys meeting military requirements and capable of operating in a destructured environment. The main objectives of this approach are to increase the security of forces by optimizing logistics, and to refocus human resources on operations. Expected applications are long-distance autonomous logistics convoys and autonomous last-mile multi-purpose convoys..

Parteners and spokespersons



Discover the event movie


VEDECOM meets with local authorities at the Salon des Maires

VEDECOM meets with local authorities at the Salon des Maires

This year once again, VEDECOM and VEDECOM Tech have enjoyed an opportunity to meet with local authority representatives at the Salon des Maires exhibition. The yearly national event for public procurement stakeholders was held on 19-21 November 2019 at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in Paris. An ideal opportunity for the Institute to present four innovative solutions to assist local authorities in their deployment of new mobility solutions: Marque ta Route (Mark your Road) and VEDETECT, alongside M’OBS and the interoperable supervisor for autonomous vehicles with enhanced perception.

An exhibition stand delving deep into the key issues facing local authorities

Located within the Transport and Vehicles zone, the Institute hosted an impressive stand at the Salon des Maires et des Collectivités Locales. Equipped with two didactic wall panels featuring both graphic artwork and screens, it gave a complete visual overview of the innovative mobility solutions presented by VEDECOM. Origami fortune tellers were hung from the stand, bearing the message: “when choosing mobility solutions for your local area, don’t leave your decision to chance”.

A somewhat unusual approach which was hugely successful! In the run-up to elections, the exhibition was a well-timed opportunity for VEDECOM to gauge the issues facing different local authorities, in all their diversity.

Marque ta Route and VEDETECT: two of VEDECOM’s award-winning innovations at the Grand Prix de l’Innovation

Among the four innovative solutions presented by the Institute, two were recognised by the Grand Prix de l’Innovation of the Salon des Maires on 22 October and were on show to the general public for the first time.

The “Marque ta Route” software, winner of the First Prize for Innovation in the Buildings/Public Works/Highways category, is a road assets management tool based on the PhD research thesis of Maxime Redondin. It provides a set of tools for reliability analysis and assistance with the replacement of road signage, using retroreflection data to automatically analyse road marking inspections.

The VEDETECT sensor network, created by Julian Garbiso, finalist in the NITC/Information Systems category, is a real-time system for measuring and analysing mobility. It uses artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) to produce mobility measurements (flow, speed and start/end trajectories) that are comparable to results derived from more conventional methods at significantly lower cost. This solution, which will be expanded for use in estimating the density of pedestrians and passengers, will enable local authorities to better regulate traffic, and help them in formulating their transport policy.

Two VEDECOM Tech products: M’OBS and the interoperable supervisor for autonomous vehicles with enhanced perception

VEDECOM Tech also presented two new products. The M’OBS solution by VEDECOM Tech is an evaluation agency for new mobility solutions. It helps local authorities and mobility stakeholders to better understand their environment, to assess the suitability of new mobility solutions and to deliver the best possible user experience.

The commercial division of the VEDECOM Institute also showed a preview of its interoperable supervisor for autonomous vehicles with enhanced perception. Using an interface designed specifically for autonomous vehicles, the Supervisor provides access to a network of sensors installed on roadside infrastructures or in-vehicle systems. It also manages all communications between the different systems. In more concrete terms, it provides local authorities with an affordable and accessible learning and reporting tool to assist with implementing autonomous vehicle trials. It also provides assistance to transport operators and can incorporate new projects being developed by collective autonomous vehicle manufacturers.

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