AUGUSTA, Maine — A small Maine company and defense giant Boeing Co. announced Thursday they’re teaming up to develop technology that will enable military ground vehicles to operate unmanned in hostile situations, sparing soldiers of some of the dangers they now face.
Bolduc Technology Group, which is headquartered in Augusta, and Boeing Defense, Space & Security officials made the announcement with Gov. John Baldacci. The kits would enable human-driven vehicles to be converted into autonomous or remotely operated vehicles for commercial or military use.
Under the agreement, Bolduc will lend its expertise in developing technology for remotely operated vehicles. The company for two decades has enabled thousands of disabled people to operate vehicles through “drive-by-wire” technology and applications adapted from airplanes.
Boeing, a major manufacturer of military aircraft, will offer its experience in ground robotics, autonomy and combat systems. The goal is to develop technology to have unmanned vehicles in military or other settings operate either by remote control or programmed to follow predetermined routes.
“Our ground vehicle autonomy kit technology enables dull, dirty and dangerous missions such as convoys, route clearance, reconnaissance and perimeter control to be performed with either remotely operated or supervised autonomous control,” said Bob DaLee, robotics program manager for Boeing’s Network and Tactical Systems division.
Bolduc Technology was founded in Maine 20 years ago and moved to Baton Rouge, La., before relocating again to Augusta. The company, which has its primary manufacturing facility in Gray, has 16 employees.
Boeing Defense, Space & Security, headquartered in St. Louis, is a $34 billion business with 68,000 employees worldwide.
Baldacci said the agreement between the two “speaks to the world-class technology and work force that exists right here in Maine.”