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Archive for the ‘Robotics’ Category

Rheinmetall Unveils Its New Mission Master – Armed Reconnaissance system: Enhanced Situational Awareness and Frontline Fire Support

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

Rheinmetall’s game-changing Mission Master Autonomous – Unmanned Ground Vehicle (A-UGV) family has just gained a new member: the Mission Master – Armed Reconnaissance. Equipped with intelligence-gathering technology and a Rheinmetall Fieldranger remote-controlled weapon station (RCWS), the new Armed Reconnaissance module is designed to collect tactical intelligence in the area of operations while providing frontline fire support whenever necessary.

Crewless recon missions maximize troop security

Autonomous robotic vehicles offer countless advantages, including in a reconnaissance context. The Mission Master – Armed Reconnaissance is designed to execute high-risk scouting missions and deliver a real-time common operating picture without putting soldiers in danger. Since an enormous volume of data is gathered during missions of this type, Rheinmetall’s new A-UGV is equipped with resilient, highly reliable systems. Its payload consists of long-range EO/IR sensors, a surveillance radar, a 360° full ring camera, a laser rangefinder and a laser designator to identify potential threats. To further enhance the line of sight for the sensors while keeping a concealed posture, the reconnaissance payload is installed on a 3.5-metre expandable mast with a tilting mechanism. This convenient feature allows for increased and safe transportability on any platform, even a CH-53 or CH-47 Chinook.

The Armed Reconnaissance module also features radio-agnostic architecture, which means it can accommodate any type of radio that customers may need. The bidirectional communication system permits clear exchanges with HQ and other A-UGVs, giving commanders greater situational awareness. When engaging enemy forces, the Rheinmetall Fieldranger Light 7.62 mm RCWS will provide much more firepower than the usual man-carried section weapon. Engagement of targets is remote-controlled, never autonomous.

Safe operation at all times

As with the other modules of the Mission Master family, the Armed Reconnaissance owes its autonomous functions to the Rheinmetall PATH autonomous kit (A-kit). Proven, agnostic, trusted and highly autonomous, PATH is designed to enable military vehicles to operate in unmanned mode, freeing up soldiers for other duties and keeping them out of immediate danger. The A-kit provides a wide range of teleoperation options for the Mission Master, including a tablet, smartwatch, soldier system, and single-hand controller. These devices enable full access to advanced PATH features such as follow-me, convoy and autonomous navigation modes. Each control mode incorporates multiple layers of protection to ensure that the vehicle operates safely at all times. Moreover, Rheinmetall is committed to keeping a man in the loop in all kinetic operations, assuring that a human decides when to open fire, never a machine.

A comprehensive Mission Master family

The new Armed Reconnaissance module is the latest addition to the modular Mission Master family, widely acclaimed for its all-terrain manoeuvrability and ability to keep troops safe when deployed in harm’s way. The Cargo module can carry over half a ton of supplies, relieving the burden on troops keeping them fresh. The Fire Support modules boost the combat power of dismounted units, while the Rescue module autonomously evacuates casualties and carries specialized equipment for medical interventions in the field. In addition, every single module is equipped with a Blue Force tracking system that is fully compatible with NATO standards.

Like all members of the Mission Master family, the Armed Reconnaissance version is already networked to the Argus soldier system and Rheinmetall Command and Control Software, which can be installed in any user’s battle management system.

Power of the Wolf Pack

The addition of the Armed Reconnaissance to the Mission Master suite turns Rheinmetall’s groundbreaking Wolf Pack concept into a reality. The Wolf Pack consists of multiple Mission Master vehicles efficiently operating as a team in order to accomplish missions of all types, including zone surveillance, reconnaissance, target position transfer and slew-to-cue. All units communicate with each other and use artificial intelligence to maintain the total situational awareness necessary for carrying out their missions.

A genuine force multiplier, the entire Wolf Pack can be managed by a single operator from anywhere using the LTE network, SATCOM, or military cloud. It is an intuitive concept that enables one operator – rather than multiple uncoordinated operators – to focus on the overall mission rather than managing all the tasks of each A-UGV. As Rheinmetall continues to develop new modules for the Mission Master family, the Wolf Pack’s range of capabilities will only increase, significantly improving the military’s ability to achieve overmatch against increasingly capable enemies.

Netherlands and Estonia to Acquire Seven Milrem Robotics’ THeMIS UGVs

Saturday, October 3rd, 2020

The Estonian Centre for Defence Investment (ECDI) signed a Joint Procurement Agreement with the Dutch authorities to procure a total of seven THeMIS unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) from Milrem Robotics, the leading developer of robotics and autonomous systems in Europe.

Milrem Robotics will deliver four THeMIS vehicles acquired by the Royal Netherlands Army in the coming months. The Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) will receive their three vehicles this month.

According to the contract, Milrem Robotics is the system integrator who, in addition to the supplying the vehicles, also performs all the integration of third-party technologies, including weapons systems, onto the delivered UGVs. Notably these unmanned weapons systems will remain under human control.

“We are pleased that the unmanned ground vehicles developed by an Estonian company in the course of a defence research and development project supported by the Estonian Ministry of Defence can now be used by our armed forces,” said Ivar Janson, Strategic Category Manager for Armoured Vehicles at the ECDI. “We are especially pleased, that we found a common ground with our Dutch partners to conduct the Joint R&D project and procurement,” he added.

“We are delighted to enhance our cooperation with Milrem Robotics by increasing our fleet to six THeMIS vehicles in joint efforts with the Estonian Ministry of Defence. So far, the THeMIS has successfully been used for research and experiments by operational units of the 13 Light Brigade in Scotland, Germany, The Netherlands and during a live fire exercise in Austria. The addition of four extra THeMIS vehicles with a Remote Controlled Weapon System that is operated by a soldier provides us the opportunity to continue to develop concepts to enhance the combat power and decrease the risk for our soldiers,” said LtCol Martijn Hadicke, Commander of the Robot and Autonomous Systems (RAS) unit.

Milrem Robotics has already delivered two THeMIS UGVs to the RAS Unit of the 13th Light Brigade of the Royal Netherlands in 2019.

The Estonian Defence Forces used the THeMIS for 12 months in Mali during Operation Barkhane. Various EDF units have first-hand experience with the UGV from several military exercises.

Milrem Robotics’ first product, the THeMIS UGV has been delivered to nine countries of which seven are NATO members. The company’s other products are the Type-X Robotic Combat Vehicle, intended to support mechanized units, and the Intelligent Functions Integration Kit, which enables the THeMIS but also other unmanned ground vehicles autonomous functionalities like waypoint navigation and follow-me. Milrem Robotics also performs system integration of capabilities such as sensors, software and sensor based intelligent functions, and weapon systems.

The company also leads iMUGS, an EDIDP funded project. This project develops the European standard architecture for unmanned ground vehicles and their management system, including cyber defence solutions, and demonstrates the advantages of unmanned systems for enhancing defence capabilities.

Leading Canadian Submersible Robotics Company Launching New Semi-Autonomous ROV System, REVOLUTION NAV

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020


The REVOLUTION NAV package makes locating, tracking and operating an ROV easier than ever before.

August 18, 2020 – Kitchener, Ontario – Taking a big step towards developing a hybrid autonomous vehicle, submersible robotics company Deep Trekker is proud to announce that they are launching a new ROV package, the REVOLUTION NAV. Offering advanced navigation and stabilization, this new package is leading the way in semi-autonomous vehicles. The REVOLUTION NAV package provides pilots with a Google map showing their ROV’s position on screen, allowing users to see where they are, leave a trail to show where they have been and set points of interest to where they want to return to. Furthermore, advanced stabilization features allow operators to station hold against currents, enable auto altitude and pilot their vehicle precisely and accurately through varying water conditions.

Solving harsh environmental situations with fully assembled, tested and ready to use remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), Deep Trekker gets eyes underwater in minutes. With applications in aquaculture, energy, shipping, defense, infrastructure and search and rescue among others, Deep Trekker’s underwater drones are on the leading edge of submersible technology.

“We are thrilled to be launching the REVOLUTION NAV,” shared Deep Trekker President Sam Macdonald. “With this new package, users will be able to know where they are in real time. This advanced navigational tool allows for more complex missions to be successfully carried out by ROV pilots.”

The REVOLUTION NAV’s capabilities are especially useful for applications in open, murky water or when there is significant current. The state-of-the-art features provide benefits across numerous applications for missions requiring precise navigation, location tracking and reporting. Search and recovery teams, for example, will be able to easily see and track what areas have been covered as part of the search. 

“The REVOLUTION NAV uses our BRIDGE technology and sensor fusion to provide station keeping, location tracking and intelligent navigation in addition to real time location data,” explained Macdonald. “We aim for constant innovation and the REVOLUTION NAV allows us to continue to provide advancements to our customers and pave the way towards autonomy.”

The pairing of USBL and DVL with Deep Trekker’s BRIDGE technology and sensor fusion bring this intelligent navigation system to life. USBL systems utilize sonar beacons to triangulate the position of the ROV. A GPS chip inside the Deep Trekker BRIDGE Controller allows the system to correlate the data and provide real time latitude and longitude. DVL offers users an enhanced navigational system by providing pilots with the ability to accurately and conveniently determine velocity relative to the seafloor, allowing for easy navigation through the most complex of operations. 

www.deeptrekker.com

Persistent Systems Completes Phase I of Robotic Command Vehicles program; Readies for Phase III

Tuesday, August 18th, 2020

Company officials say mobile ad hoc network will shine in complex, multi-unit battlefield scenarios 

For Immediate Release 

NEW YORK, N.Y. – August 18, 2020 – Persistent Systems, LLC (“Persistent”), a leader in mobile ad hoc network (MANET) solutions, announced today that it has successfully completed Phase I of the U.S. Army Robotic Command Vehicles (RCV) program.  

Run under the auspices of the Army Future Command’s Next Generation Combat Vehicles – Cross Functional Team, the RCV program aims to show the utility of manned-unmanned teaming with a future Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) being able to control multiple RCV “wingmen.”   

During Phase I, a modified M113 tracked armored personnel carrier acted as an RCV surrogate while a modified Bradley infantry vehicle called the Mission Enabling Technologies-Demonstrator, or MET-D, served in lieu of a yet-to-be-built OMFV. 

 “We successfully networked the surrogate platforms in a point-to-point fashion with our Wave Relay MANET,” Brian Soles, VP of Government Relations & Business Strategy for Persistent Systems, said. “That means enabling the cameras, sensors and software as well as the command-and-control interface for control of the RCV and its gun systems.” 

Persistent Systems is now working with the Next Generation Combat Vehicles – Cross Functional Team and other stakeholders, such as Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center and C5ISR Center, to review lessons learned and further adapt Wave Relay capabilities. 

“We are really looking forward to Phase III of the Army RCV program,” Soles said, “because it’ll be a complex, RF-contested and -congested environment with multiple air, ground, and dismounted units, and that’s where Wave Relay’s scalability, resiliency and spectrum efficiency will shine.”    

Robotic Combat Vehicles Display Next-Gen Features in Live-Fire Exercises

Friday, August 14th, 2020

FORT CARSON, Colo. — The Army’s collection of armed robotic combat vehicles showcased an “exceptional” ability to identify enemy positions after about a month of testing, but more development is still needed to improve battlefield precision, said Brig. Gen. Richard Coffman.

Coffman, director of the Next-Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team, praised the capabilities of the four robotic combat vehicles, or RCVs, during the platoon live-fire exercises here.

Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division used two modified Bradley Fighting Vehicles, called Mission Enabling Technologies-Demonstrators, or MET-Ds, to control and maneuver the RCVs to determine whether the autonomous vehicles increased the lethality and efficiency of ground units.

“The ability [to spot enemies] was exceptional, because that reduces the risk on our Soldiers and allows us to remain in a covered and concealed position and make decisions,” Coffman said during a media conference call Thursday.

The MET-Ds, which are manned with six Soldiers, have 360-degree situational awareness cameras, a remote turret with a 25 mm main gun, and enhanced crew stations with touchscreens. The RCVs are M113 surrogate platforms that also have 360 cameras and fire 7.62 mm machine guns.

From inside the MET-Ds, Soldiers were able to control the RCVs up to a 2,000-meter range, but struggled to extend that distance in dense forest regions, Coffman said.

Developers plan to add more features to the vehicles in Phase II of testing, including a new radio tether to increase the operating range, an unmanned aerial vehicle and a target recognition capability based on synthetic data. Phase II, which is scheduled for the first quarter of fiscal year 2022 at Fort Hood, Texas, will feature three platoons of robotic vehicle with control vehicles.

“This is about commanders on the battlefield and giving them more decision space and reducing the risk on our men and women,” Coffman said. “We go into the nastiest places on earth. And these robots are absolutely going to do that in the future. We’re not there 100% yet.”

A third party will evaluate the technical and tactical performance of the operating crews and robotic vehicles, as well as the overall success of the experiment. The findings will then be briefed to the service’s senior leaders.

After the evaluation of Phase II’s results, Coffman said the Army will decide whether to continue testing.

Room for improvement

Soldiers testing the autonomous vehicles noted that greater sensory capabilities must be developed for the controlled vehicles to serve as unmanned replacements.

“Right now we don’t have sensors that can tell whether we’re coming across a little puddle that we can just drive through or whether that puddle is 8 feet deep and going to bog us down,” said Jeffrey Langhout, director of the Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Ground Vehicle System Center. “A robot can navigate its own way and it relies on the sensors that it has to keep from driving into ditches and all kinds of problems. We certainly have a long way to go on that.”

Sgt. Matthew Morris, assigned to 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th ID, said the lack of downward visibility hindered operation of the RCVs. He said the vehicle’s ability to see down steep terrain must improve to prevent the vehicle from overturning.

When a human drives a vehicle into soft sand they instinctively know to shift to a lower driving gear and the RCVs must develop that sensitivity, Coffman said.

“For me specifically, I think that the ability to see downward once we approach certain inclines and declines would probably be an astute upgrade that would push us forward in the right direction,” Morris said, adding the vehicles must increase its audio signature to increase communication abilities with crew members.

Vehicle operator Sgt. Scott Conklin, who is also with 3rd ABCT, said that the two-person crew could handle the increased workload, but the frenetic pace of operating with the 360 cameras made the RCVs challenging to operate.

Coffman said regardless of how the program evolves, he said humans will retain a level of autonomy over the robotic combat vehicles.

“We don’t want a fully autonomous vehicle,” he said. “We don’t want the machine deciding. We want very specific rules of what that machine will and will not do. The humans are in charge.”

By Joseph Lacdan, Army News Service

US Army Selects Kongsberg to Develop Wireless Lethality for its Light and Medium Robotic Combat Vehicles

Monday, July 6th, 2020

Contract continues program maturity, supports future lethality requirements and provides commonality with the U.S. Marine Corps

JOHNSTOWN, PA, July 1, 2020 – The U.S. Army has selected Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace to provide a wireless fire control capability to support its future medium caliber lethality needs for its light and medium Robotic Combat Vehicles (RCV). This decision creates a common architecture across all current robotic lethality fire control for crew-served, medium caliber and anti-tank weapons. In addition to the fire control architectures for both RCV-Light (RCV-L) and RCV-Medium (RCV-M), Kongsberg weapon stations – CROWS J and MCT-30 respectively – have been selected as Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) for the Army’s RCV phase 2 experimentation.

“By overcoming the challenges presented by remote lethality, Kongsberg is paving the way for commonality across a variety of vehicle platforms – manned, optionally manned or unmanned,” said Scott Burk, vice president, Land Systems, Kongsberg Defense. “Beyond lethality and scalability, in conjunction with other Kongsberg medium caliber systems and medium weight systems being delivered, soldiers have the advantage of service-wide commonality. This will have tremendous positive impacts on training, provisioning and sustaining all U.S. Army weapon stations.”

This latest contract for wireless fire-control architecture augments previous awards to Kongsberg for the wireless fire-control architecture for the U.S. Army RCV-L program and the Multi-User, Multi-Station (MUMS) distributed fire-control architecture. The MUMS architecture was developed against a U.S. Marine Corps requirement for “one over many, many over one” control of RWS. The MUMS architecture is currently being applied to all Marine RWS deliveries including systems for the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV).

Kongsberg demonstrated its wireless fire control capability for the RCV-L architecture, firing both a Javelin anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) as well as the weapon station’s 12.7 mm machine gun (.50 M2) from a legacy CROWS M153 mounted on an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV). The June 2019 live-fire demonstration was carried out at Redstone Test Center in Alabama. Kongsberg also successfully demonstrated secure transmissions of video and fire-control data including command signals over radio from the weapon station and the missile. Kongsberg will perform a similar U.S. government-sponsored demonstration of the medium caliber wireless capability later this year.

The Kongsberg MCT-30 is the first remotely-operated turret to be qualified and fielded in the United States. The system provides highly accurate firepower for wheeled or tracked combat vehicles and is remotely controlled and operated from a protected position inside the vehicle compartment for optimized crew safety.

Kongsberg is the world’s leading manufacturer of Remote Weapon Stations (RWS), having delivered nearly 20,000 RWS units to more than 20 countries worldwide. Kongsberg is also the sole provider of RWS and remote turrets to the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps. All RWS and remote turrets bound for U.S. customers are manufactured in the Kongsberg Johnstown, PA facility. The company takes great pride in its continued support to, and for the United States, U.S. employees, and U.S. supply base.   

For more information, visit kongsberg.com

Milrem Robotics Revealed Type-X RCV with John Cockerill CPWS II Turret

Thursday, June 18th, 2020

Tallinn, June 17, 2020 – Milrem Robotics and John Cockerill Defense today showcased the Type-X Robotic Combat Vehicle with the Cockerill Protected Weapons Station Gen. II (CPWS II) to select military forces from around the world.

The Type-X vehicle chassis is a revolutionary design for a mobile modular multi-mission vehicle that provides a platform for a family of unmanned armored vehicles. It is the first combat vehicle that is purposefully designed to be unmanned intended to be an integral part of mechanized units.

The Type-X is designed to deploy at a weight below the 12-ton mark for rapid deployment into the combat theater, either by parachute or by heavy lift helicopter.

A combination of augmented Artificial Intelligence (AI) and a remote system operator, the Type-X is a tracked vehicle with armor protection that can supplement troop formations or operate independently, in unmanned formations.

“The Type-X is modular and will accept larger turrets, but current turret designs are optimized for operations under armor,” Kuldar Väärsi, CEO of Milrem Robotics stated. “The CPWS II is a step in the right direction, as it is designed from the beginning to be a remotely controlled configuration (unmanned) and easy access from the outside of the turret, allowing for reload and maintenance,” Väärsi added.

Simon Haye, the Chief Marketing Officer for John Cockerill Defense adds: “One of the first realistic roles for unmanned fighting vehicles will be convoy defense and perimeter or base defense. The Type-X with the CPWS can be placed in the front and rear of a convoy to provide additional eyes and firepower for the convoy. Rarely does a convoy have available 25mm firepower and given the system is unmanned, tactics like rushing an ambush site, or maneuvering on the enemy’s position are now legitimate options for a convoy under fire. The lead / follow functions of unmanned vehicles is well developed technology and spreading some operator stations through the convoy can provide redundancy and quick response. Further FOB security can now be in the form of a mobile unmanned fighting vehicle. Instead of putting soldiers at risk on the wire, these Guardian Systems can provide relentless observation and the capability to maneuver and disperse an attack instead of just absorbing it.”

The CPWS II is a low profile, light weight turret, with a revolutionary hatch opening and can mount the M242 25mm X 137mm Bushmaster cannon or the 230LF, 30mm X 113mm cannon. The CPWS II is a remotely operated turret, designed to fit onto 4X4 and 6X6 vehicles. It is the revolutionary hatch, which can operate in three modes that makes the turret a desirable selection for unmanned vehicle operations.

The opening roof capability will allow a rapid reloading of the unmanned vehicle from the outside. Equipped with a 360-degree panoramic sight, with CCD, thermal and fused imaging, the CPWS represents a suitable partner to the Type-X Robotic Combat Vehicle. The turret can come with Anti-Tank Missiles such as Alcotan, MMP, Javelin or SPIKE.

“Eventually, combining self-driving unmanned logistics vehicles with the Type-X and you can reduce the personnel required for a convoy to a few operators, while actually increasing the capabilities of defending the convoy,” Kuldar Väärsi, CEO of Milrem Robotics said. “This is not just a leap forward in force protection but a force multiplier.”

During the demonstration Milrem Robotics unveiled their Intelligent Functions Kit (IFK), which converts any vehicle into a self-driving or remotely controlled one. Milrem Robotics’ IFK is a modular hardware and software kit providing ROS2 based environment for different functionalities, which can be provided by Milrem Robotics, the customer or a third party. The IFK has been developed for Milrem Robotics’ THeMIS UGV and Type-X but can be adapted to any other vehicle with drive-by-wire integration.

Both companies are excited about the future cooperation. “We are looking forward to developing a wide range of solutions with John Cockerill, as they have experience, not only in the medium caliber range but they are known for their expertise in the 90mm and 105mm cannons.” Väärsi stated.

Small Robotic Mule, Other Unmanned Ground Systems on the Horizon for US Army

Saturday, June 13th, 2020

FORT MEADE, Md. — The Army plans to award a contract this month to produce hundreds of robotic mules that will help light infantry units carry gear, a product manager said last week, as part of a line of unmanned ground systems the service is developing.

The Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport, or S-MET, was tested last year by two infantry brigades from the 10th Mountain Division and 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

The six-month assessment included 80 systems from four vendors that were evaluated during home-station training and rotations to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana.

Soldiers successfully tested the performance of the robotic vehicles to ensure they could at least carry 1,000 pounds, operate over 60 miles in a three-day period, and generate a kilowatt when moving and 3 kilowatts when stationary to allow equipment and batteries to charge.

“We were able to demonstrate that and got lots of Soldier feedback,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Bodenhamer, product manager of Appliqué and Large Unmanned Ground Systems, which falls under the Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support.

The S-MET will begin to be fielded in the second quarter of the next fiscal year, with a total of 624 vehicles in Soldiers’ hands by the middle of fiscal 2024, according to the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center.

Soldier feedback led to increasing the S-MET’s carrying capacity and mobility, creating alternative methods for casualty evacuation and robotic obscuration, as well as reducing its noise, said Col. Christopher Barnwell, director of the Joint Modernization Command’s Field Experimentation Division.

“Soldiers think outside the box,” Barnwell said of the importance of their input during last week’s Future Ground Combat Vehicles virtual conference.

The S-MET program is also leveraging modular mission payload capabilities, or MMPs, to expand its functions using a common chassis, Bodenhamer said.

“This is important because this shows one of the linkages between robotics efforts,” he said, adding his office often discusses plans across the Army’s robotics community to prevent replication. “Modular mission payloads is a great example of that synergy.”

In April 2019, the Army held a weeklong demonstration with the add-on payloads at Fort Benning, Georgia, to explore ways to enhance the effectiveness of the S-MET.

“Obviously there’s a lot of potential here for the Robotic Combat Vehicles to use some of this, too,” he said, referring to the light and medium RCV variants. “They’re looking closely at the efforts we’re undertaking with these MMPs.”

Requests for information have already been sent out to industry for two MMP capabilities: counter-unmanned aerial system and another for enhanced autonomy.

“We are going to try to quickly get these things out to Soldiers and let them see which ones do and don’t meet their needs,” he said, “and then hopefully procure a quantity of these payloads to further enhance the capability of the S-MET.”

Manned-unmanned teaming

The Army also completed an assessment in March on the Nuclear Biological Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicle, or NBCRV, a modified Stryker vehicle with chemical detection sensors.

The assessment, conducted by the 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, Texas, added new unmanned, surrogate systems to enhance NBC reconnaissance and surveillance. Each NBCRV controlled an unmanned ground vehicle as a wingman and three UAS aircraft, Barnwell said.

Manned-unmanned teaming operations “extended the range, the area of coverage and reduced the risk to the crew and enabled faster reporting of [chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear] hazards,” he said.

The requirement for the Assault Breacher Vehicle Teleoperation Kit, which is built on an M1A1 Abrams tank chassis, is also set to be finalized this summer after being tested in last year’s Joint Warfighting Assessment.

The kit allows the two-person crew to step out of the vehicle and remotely control it during dangerous breaching operations.

While the gun tube of the tank is removed, it can still launch mine clearing line charges and includes a lane marking system and front-end plowing attachments.

 “It’s a great use of teleop,” Bodenhamer said. “Probably the best use we’ve ever come up with, in terms of how it fits into the overall impact of bringing the unmanned operation of a platform into the Army.”

As technology improves, artificial intelligence will continually play a larger role in operations, Barnwell said.

“These systems are going to have to be able to do more and more on their own to enable the human operators to focus on the big picture,” he said.

A tank commander, for instance, may need to order a few robotic “wingman” vehicles to drive themselves to a waypoint, avoiding obstacles along the way.

Or, a helicopter pilot may require a UAS to detect and destroy air defense systems ahead of him before arriving to a specific location, he said.

“We’re not talking Skynet,” he said, referring to The Terminator film. “We’re talking about simple things that these systems are going to have to do to enable us as warfighters to operate more efficiently.”

By Sean Kimmons, Army News Service