With two signatures and a handshake, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood and Missouri University of Science and Technology joined forces with the intent to research and implement new technologies on post.

The memorandum of understanding, signed in December, identifies Fort Leonard Wood as a host installation for applied robotics and an autonomous electric bus pilot project, according to Joyce Connor, plans analyst with the Plans, Analysis and Integration Office, Fort Leonard Wood.

"Autonomous vehicles are a rapidly evolving technology that is of great interest to both the military and industry," said Angela Rolufs, Missouri S&T Center of Sustainability director. "We realized this project had the potential to bring a lot of attention to Fort Leonard Wood and that it might provide an opportunity for the university to have a more strategic partnership with the installation."

The partnership is about facilitating collaborative research and development, technical support, technology demonstration and utilization in the areas of intelligent transportation, smart sustainable and resilient cities/installations and the associated electronic security that will be needed to support this rapidly evolving technology, Rolufs added.

Missouri S&T and Fort Leonard Wood will work collaboratively to create this advanced technology demonstration capability. Fort Leonard Wood will support the initiative through coordination with on-post organizations for the use of installation infrastructure for testing and demonstration. There will be no monetary cost to Fort Leonard Wood for the initiative.

The memorandum added the scope of the project is beyond any other autonomous vehicle demonstration planned or underway in the United States.

"The MOU allows us to initiate the collaborative development of an Intelligent Transportation Center located on Fort Leonard Wood," Rolufs added. "New legislation (2015 National Defense Authorization Act) that encourages partnerships between military installations and state organizations set the stage for a unique autonomous vehicle research and demonstration initiative at Fort Leonard Wood."

The project is scheduled to be implemented over a three-year span and include the development of the transportation center and opens the door for additional collaboration on advanced technology research opportunities, Rolufs said.