Stratom to add capabilities to APL in support of the U.S. Marine Corps

Stratom's APL is an autonomous system that can be used to transport heavy and bulky cargo across various terrains.
Stratom’s APL is an autonomous system that can be used to transport heavy and bulky cargo across various terrains. | Source: Stratom

Stratom last week announced the advancement of its Autonomous Pallet Loader’s (APL’s) capabilities in support of the U.S. Marine Corps. The company says this next phase of development builds on previous successful technology demonstrations. 

The Boulder, Colo.-based company said these new capabilities will have an emphasis on maturing the integration of Stratom’s Summit autonomy architecture, or software, onto the APL. Summit is Stratom’s off-road autonomy platform. 

Lighter weight and improved autonomy

“This contract allows us to continue optimizing the APL platform for autonomous operations, including pallet pickup, dropoff and transport at the tactical edge — in harsh and remote locations,” Mark Gordon, Stratom’s president, said. “Our key focuses are achieving weight savings and autonomy enhancements to enable aircraft transportability and ultimately free Marines to focus on mission-critical tasks.”

Statom’s APL is a rugged, autonomous forklift. The company designed it to navigate through challenging terrains and deliver large quantities of supplies at scale. The company says the APL is safer, weighs less, and greatly reduces cycle times when compared to existing fielded material handling equipment. Additionally, it reduces aircraft fuel waste and minimizes operational personnel through the implementation of key robotic and autonomous capabilities. 

Founded in 2001, Stratom is a developer of autonomous ground vehicles and robotic systems for logistics and operational applications. It specializes in autonomous cargo movement, robotic refueling, robotic hazardous liquid transfer, and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). 

Stratom to prioritize two key objectives

Stratom says it has already secured joint support within the Defense Department. The autonomous system aims to reduce the burden on Marines in the field. It can boost speed, adaptability, and safety when users are handling 463L aircraft pallets, wooden pallets, and large munitions. 

In this phase of the project, Stratom says it will prioritize two key objectives. The first is hardware design updates that aim to improve performance and durability, reduce vehicle weight, increase compatibility, and ensure flight certification readiness. The second is Summit software integration to expand the system’s autonomous capabilities. 

“Summit’s exceptionally configurable and modular autonomy architecture allows us to easily integrate advanced behaviors like waypoint navigation, obstacle avoidance, cargo pickup and dropoff, cross-docking, embarkation, and geofencing adherence,” Andrew Lycas, principal roboticist at Stratom, said. “This inherent versatility enables the APL to tackle a wide range of contested logistics missions requiring autonomous heavy payload handling in complex, GPS-denied environments, further bolstering the military’s logistical capabilities.”

Beyond the Marine Corps, Stratom says the multipurpose APL has drawn interest from the USTRANSCOM, USCENTCOM, Air Force, and Army for autonomous resupply, cargo movement, and other logistics applications. 

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Automated Warehouse staff