The United States Air Force is responsible for assuring that America's military machine can be deployed rapidly to points throughout the world. Whether our armed forces are sent to fulfill a humanitarian mission, help with a regional conflict, or protect our national interests, troops and supplies have to reach their destination safely and on schedule. Furthermore, with today's budget restraints the Air Force is required to deploy using fewer resources. This results in developing new approaches and using advanced technologies to allow troops and supplies to be deployed more reliably and more efficiently than ever before.
Presently when the armed forces deploy wheeled vehicles by aircraft, each vehicle must be weighed and measured to determine the weight of individual axles, the gross vehicle weight and the center of balance. This operation is performed using small portable scales, a calculator, and a tape measure. The scales are placed on the tarmac or other suitable surface, and vehicle wheels are driven upon the scales. The reading from the individual scales on the same axle are added together to obtain the axle weight, and the tape measure is used to measure the distance between the axles. The collected information is used to calculate the center of balance and the gross vehicle weight. In cases where weighing the vehicle requires more portable scales than are available, the process must be performed in steps since the scales must moved from axle to axle. The goal of this project was to develop technologies that will automate this vehicle data acquisition, subsequently expediting deployment of military units into and out of theaters of operation.
In partnership with the Tennessee Air National Guard, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed and tested an automated vehicle data acquisition system (AVDAC) that performs the above-described operation as vehicles drive over a set of sensors. Although commercial portable weigh-in-motion systems are available, these systems do not offer the accuracy required by the military, nor do they calculate the center of balance of the moving vehicle. Researchers at the ORNL determined that accuracy of the portable weigh-in-motion systems would be improved by using a weight determination algorithm that integrates the sensor output over time as the tire rolls over the sensor. A system that meets military requirements was developed by combining the weight sensors and ramps from a commercially available system with contact switches and custom-designed hardware/software. The resulting system produced in-motion weight readings with accuracies of +/- 3% with a 64% confidence level and +/- 6% with a 93% confidence level when weighing military vehicles selected a random. In a simulated deployment using four vehicle the AVDAC system greatly simplified the weighing operation and reduced the time required to complete the weighing by a factor of 5.75.
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