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Archive for the ‘Robotics’ Category

Milrem Robotics Awarded Contract to Support the Development of the Italian Army’s Robotics Program

Sunday, January 16th, 2022

The NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) awarded the European leading robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) developer and system integrator Milrem Robotics a contract to provide RAS Concept Development and Experimentation (CD&E) Services to the Italian Army.

The scope of the multi-year campaign is to explore RAS technology in order to update the Italian army’s RAS strategy and outline an implementation roadmap for the introduction of unmanned systems and related technology into service.

Milrem Robotics will support the Italian army in developing a clear path to how RAS technology, systems and architectures can generate operational advantages and ground armed forces benefits when operating in urbanized environments.

“Milrem is proud to be selected as the partner for supporting the Italian Armed Forces in one of the most advanced and challenging RAS CD&E initiatives in the world. This program is well in line with our core competencies as a system integrator for autonomous and robotic technologies,” said Kuldar Väärsi, CEO of Milrem Robotics.

The Italian CD&E level of ambition is to exploit prototyping skills and technological capabilities to demonstrate future operational benefits and finally, to identify short to mid-term (5-15 years) transformational initiatives for the development of operational RAS capabilities.

The scope of the cooperation is to capture, analyse and deliver decision support data from all stages of the experimentation process, stemming from field activities, war-gaming, modelling and simulation, innovative technologies, etc., that will respond to the challenges set forth by the problem statement.

The deliverables of the contract include a Command and Control (C2) System, an autonomy engine, systems integration of 3rd party capabilities, several unmanned ground and air vehicles and a variety of sensors and effectors.

Milrem Robotics is the leading European robotics and autonomous systems developer and systems integrator. The company is known for its THeMIS and Multiscope Unmanned Ground Vehicles and the Type-X Robotic Combat Vehicle. The THeMIS supports dismounted troops while the Multiscope is intended for civilian use such as forestry and firefighting.  The Type-X Robotic Combat Vehicle is a wingman for mechanized units.

Milrem Robotics is the leader of a consortium that was recently awarded 30.6M (EUR) from the European Commission’s European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) to develop a European standardized unmanned ground system (UGS).

During the project, titled iMUGS, modular and scalable architecture for hybrid manned-unmanned systems will be developed to standardize a European wide ecosystem.

Milrem Robotics Led iMUGS Consortium Demonstrates Deployment of Unmanned Systems

Friday, December 3rd, 2021

The iMUGS Consortium, in charge of a 32,6 MEUR project developing the European standard unmanned ground system (UGS), demonstrated how defence forces can use tactical 4G/5G communications networks and UGS’ equipped with ISR and signal intelligence payloads, jammers, acoustic sensors, and various other technology to conduct missions.

The demonstration that was performed in September in Latvia, was led by LMT, a member of the integrated Modular Unmanned Ground System (iMUGS) consortium, with the support of the project coordinator Milrem Robotics and featured an ensemble of different technology.

Latvian National Armed Forces used two Milrem Robotics’ THeMIS Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV) during two scenarios to display the benefits of teaming up manned units with unmanned systems.

One THeMIS UGV was equipped with an Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) payload, Signal Intelligence antenna (SIGINT) provided by The Electronic Communications Office of Latvia, Rheinmetall’s Rapid Obscuring System (ROSY) Smoke Grenade Launcher, Bittium’s Vehicular Software Defined Radios (Tough SDR Vehicular), and FN Herstal’s deFNder Light Remote Weapon Station (RWS). The RWS integration was part of the demonstration, but not of the iMUGS project itself.

The second THeMIS, used as a mule for transporting the squad’s equipment, was equipped with Rantelon’s Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Jammer and Bittium’s Tough SDR Vehicular.

The units and UGVs used Bittium’s tactical communication network TAC WIN combined with LMT’s commercial 4G and a tactical 5G-SA bubble provided by Bittium and Cumucore.

In addition, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann’s (KMW) Dingo infantry mobility vehicle was used as the command centre from where UGVs were operated in Line of Sight (LOS) and Beyond the Line of Sight (BLOS) mode using Bittium’s SDR radios and to where the ISR and Signal Intelligence sensor feed was relayed and incorporated into LMT’s Battle Management System Viedsargs.

“The displayed scenarios showed that unmanned systems, enhanced with innovative communication systems and various defence technology, can be used for collecting and sharing tactical information, improve situational awareness, decrease troops physical load, and increase force protection,” explained Kuldar Väärsi, CEO of Milrem Robotics.

”For the first time ever, in a special network, a tactical network was connected with a stand-alone 5G network. This allowed communication between units and robots, as well as collecting information from sensors and placing this information into LMT’s Battle Management System “Viedsargs”,” said Ingmars Pukis, Vice President and Member of the Management Board of LMT.

Additional equipment used in the demonstration included: SRC Brasa’s NATRIX UGV used for CASEVAC, high-speed First-Person View drone, Vertical Take-off, and Landing UAV STAR, and a gunshot detection and source recognition audio sensor by Riga Technical University (RTU).

The iMUGS project was launched in 2020 to develop a modular, cyber secure and scalable architecture for hybrid manned-unmanned systems. Its goal is to standardize a Europe-wide ecosystem for ground platforms, command, control and communication equipment, sensors, payloads, and algorithms. Addressed operational challenges include enhanced interoperability, increased situational awareness and faster decision-making.

The system will use an existing UGV – Milrem Robotics’ THeMIS – and a specific list of payloads.

The project’s progress is displayed during six demonstrations. „So far Milrem Robotics and LMT Innovations have set the bar very high. Which means we have some great things to wait for as the main results of the iMUGS projects are yet to be seen,“ said Martin Jõesaar from the Estonian Center for Defence Investments, the representative of the participating Member States in the iMUGS Project. The next demonstration will take place in Q1 of 2022 in Finland.

iMUGS is a cooperation between 13 parties: Milrem Robotics (project coordinator), Bittium, Diehl Defence, dotOcean, GMV Aerospace and Defence, Insta Advance, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Latvijas Mobilais Telefons (LMT), NEXTER Systems, Royal Military Academy of Belgium, Safran Electronics & Defense, Sol.One and Talgen Cybersecurity.

Watch the Demo 2 Scenarios here:

Milrem Robotics Opens Its Central European Office And Introduces Upgraded THeMIS UGV

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

The European leading robotics and autonomous systems provider Milrem Robotics opened its office in the Netherlands today making the first step towards creating a Central European Robotics Center. Simultaneously the company introduced its upgraded THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle (UGV).

One of the reasons the city of Best near Eindhoven was chosen as the location for Milrem Robotics’ Dutch office is to be closer to one of the company’s key customers – the Royal Dutch Army – and other relevant markets.

“The main reason, however, is our goal to establish a Central European Robotics Center where R&D, simulations, training, system integration and technical support are under one roof and where end-users can visit, but more importantly come to acquire knowledge for their own Robotics and Autonomous Systems development,” explained Kuldar Väärsi, CEO of Milrem Robotics.

“Our office is situated in the middle of the Brainport Eindhoven technology region and is well connected by a large European Airport, and by a broad road network to access the rest of Europe. This allows us to efficiently provide training and coaching to officers and NCOs in tactical basic operations with unmanned systems,” said Julien den Ouden, Managing Director of Milrem Robotics Netherlands. “We will offer the “Milrem experience” in a comprehensive package where the UGV is integrated with various other third-party systems,” den Ouden added.

At the opening ceremony, Milrem Robotics also introduced their upgraded THeMIS UGV that was specifically designed to accommodate all hardware, software and the flawless operation of MIFIK – Milrem’ Intelligent Functions Integration Kit. MIFIK features wired and wireless follow-me, waypoint navigation and obstacle detection and avoidance. Considerable upgrades were also done to THeMIS’ camera system and overall user experience.

Milrem Robotics Netherlands is the company’s fifth office in Europe. The company has two offices in Estonia, one in Sweden and one in Finland.

Milrem Robotics is the leading European robotics and autonomous systems developer and systems integrator. The company is known for its THeMIS and Multiscope Unmanned Ground Vehicles and the Type-X Robotic Combat Vehicle. The THeMIS supports dismounted troops while the Multiscope is intended for civilian use such as forestry and firefighting.  The Type-X Robotic Combat Vehicle is a wingman for mechanized units.

Milrem Robotics is the leader of a consortium that was awarded 30.6 MEUR from the European Commission’s European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) to develop a European standardized unmanned ground system (UGS).

During the project, titled iMUGS, modular and scalable architecture for hybrid manned-unmanned systems will be developed to standardize a European wide ecosystem.

Project Origin Robotic Vehicles Join JRTC Rotation in Historic First

Monday, November 1st, 2021

DETROIT — In an historic first, U.S. Army Soldiers integrated a Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) surrogate into the opposing force during a recent rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, in September. This event enabled the Army to gain valuable insight in how best to utilize robotic vehicles in combat and furthered its ongoing Campaign of Learning around RCV development.

During the exercise, Soldiers from the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry — known as Geronimo — used two Project Origin vehicles (RCV surrogates) in a simulated battle with the 3/101st (Air Assault). The Origin vehicles are an Army Development Command (DEVCOM) Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC) prototyping effort and provides the Army with the ability to conduct rapid technology and autonomous behavior integration that Soldiers assess during multiple touchpoints each year.

While on-site engineers and technicians collected technical data, the Soldiers in the field further validated the combat benefits of adding robots to a manned-unmanned teamed formation and identified new capabilities desired for the next Project Origin Soldier operational experiment.

“With these units, the human survivability rate increases significantly,” explained Sergeant First Class Eugene Lackey (Pathfinder Company). “This system allowed us to close with and destroy the enemy safely from a distance. It [also enabled] us to the find the enemy before he could find us. It is a great tool and I wish we could have it for little bit longer to really see how we can change the way wars are fought.”

The feedback from Geronimo Soldiers adds to the Army’s growing library of information on the use of robots.

“Project Origin’s key competency is its ability to collect Soldier feedback and technical data, use this information to rapidly iterate both its software and physical payloads, and evaluate the changes in relevant tactical environments,” said Todd Willert, Project Origin project manager at GVSC. “The lessons learned during Project Origin experiments directly support the development of the Robotic Combat Vehicle and the Army’s forthcoming Ground Autonomy Software, user interfaces (Warrior Machine Interface), and modular architectures.”

GVSC and the Army’s Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross Functional team, both based at the Detroit Arsenal in Michigan, and the Army Capability Manager-Infantry Brigade Combat Team (ACM-I), based in Georgia, worked together to integrate the Project Origin platforms into the JRTC rotation.

“JRTC stressed the systems to their breaking points, allowing us to identify problems that would undoubtedly arise in the future,” said MAJ Cory Wallace, RCV lead for NGCV CFT.

During the exercise, the Soldiers and the robots also endured a tropical storm, further adding to its complexity.

Among the highlights of the exercise, the Geronimo force used the Project Origin platform to block a key intersection for 36 hours, an effort that benefitted from Origin’s low heat signature while conducting long hours of battery-powered “silent watch.” In addition, Geronimo used the project Origin vehicles to deny helicopter landing zones and conduct route reconnaissance. Using the robots to conduct these operations – the two platforms were controlled by four operators and an NCO – allowed the Soldiers who would have been assigned those tasks to be assigned different missions.

“This validated the notion that if we assign the dumb, dirty, dangerous missions to the robots, we can re-assign our Soldiers to the high-priority complex missions and tasks,” Wallace said.

The Army has additional Soldier Touchpoints, with Project Origin and other RCV platforms, scheduled throughout 2022 as it prepares to make future decisions on the potential acquisition of RCVs.

By Dan Heaton

Air Force Installation Contracting Center Acquisitions Bolster EOD Readiness for FY21, Beyond

Tuesday, October 26th, 2021

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) —


EOD robot upgrade The Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center is acquiring new base support robots for Explosive Ordnance Disposal flights Department of the Air Force-wide. The new T7 Robotic system replaces the 20-year-old Andros F6A. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Greg Hand)

The success of implementing new explosive ordnance disposal technology in fiscal year 2021 has the Air Force Civil Engineer Center looking forward to FY22.

“Our Airmen conduct high-risk operations in support of the mission, and we ensure they have the tools and resources they need to perform their jobs safely, efficiently and effectively,” said Col. John Tryon, AFCEC Detachment 1 commander. “It’s our duty to identify civil engineering needs and advance Air Force capabilities through research, development, test and evaluation, and we take that very seriously.”

AFCEC’s Readiness Directorate partnered with the Air Force Installation Contracting Center to use more than $41 million for new EOD equipment, such as a new base support robot to clear unexploded ordnance from airfields, during the past year.

In July, the AFICC awarded an $85 million, 10-year, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract for the T7 Robot System to replace the Andros F6A robot, which has been used by the Air Force for two decades. The T7 offers a suite of new and enhanced capabilities, including a more modular design that allows users to repair it by swapping subassemblies rather than individual parts — an issue that plagued the previous robot.

“This system will move robotics forward 20 years,” said Dennis Carson, EOD robot product manager. “It enhances warfighter readiness with its ability to resolve hazardous threats and missions remotely, allowing Airmen freedom of movement at any location.”

AFCEC will begin distributing the first of the T7s in May 2022 — 56 of the 170 inventory objective of T7s were funded at contract award. The remaining requirement will be purchased this fiscal year.

The T7 is the second of two new robotic systems AFCEC is upgrading for the EOD career field. A year ago, the directorate delivered the first of the Man Transportable Robot System Increment II to the 325th Civil Engineer and the 823rd Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadrons.

To date, the readiness directorate has distributed 129 MTRS IIs and provided system training to 49 EOD flights. The directorate expects to distribute the remaining 202 systems by January 2023.

The second wave of new technology deliveries took place in July when the AFCEC team debuted the Vidisco Guardian 12 Digital Radiographic X-ray system, a $27 million procurement package, at Eglin AFB, Florida, and Hill AFB, Utah.

“This new system is essentially everything old wrapped into a new package with the addition of digital technology enhancements,” said Dave Hodgson, EOD logistics lead for AFCEC. “Compared to the previous analog models, this new system gives Airmen clear and concise images, which reduces the amount of time they have to spend analyzing the images.” 

To date, the AFCEC team has distributed 36 X-ray systems, with the remaining 15 base support systems to be distributed in 2022 and mobility configurations through 2026.

Just as FY21 came to a close, AFICC awarded a $24 million contract for the Large Clearance Blade Assembly, or L-CBA. Attached to armored front-end loaders, the equipment is used for rapid clearance of unexploded ordnance from airfield surfaces after an attack.

Because it’s mounted to an armored front-end loader, the paired capability will dramatically reduce clearance times, Hodgson said.

AFCEC plans to begin blade deliveries to bases in the European and Pacific theaters and some training sites in mid-October. Full fielding will run through 2026. The contract enables the Air Force to obtain more than 70 large blades needed to support the Rapid Mass Mechanical Clearance program over the next several years.

The directorate also executed a Life Cycle Sustainment order for bomb suits. The suits are designed to protect EOD personnel responding to scenarios with potential explosives. The $2.2 million annual acquisition provides 76 suits to replace one-seventh of the current inventory.

“When EOD technicians have to make that long walk down range to manually perform procedures, this suit — the EOD 10E — provides the best possible protection if an explosion occurs,” Hodgson said.

Rounding out FY21 EOD funding executions, AFCEC’s EOD modernization program is seeing its work pay off as the Air Force prepares to take the next steps in bringing the Recovery of Airbases Denied By Ordnance, or RADBO, system to the Air Force EOD suite of tools.


EOD robot upgrade The Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center recently contracted for the delivery of new explosive ordnance disposal base support robots for the Department of the Air Force enterprise. This chart shows a comparison of the 20-year-old Andros F6A to the new T7 Robot System. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Greg Hand)

AFCEC funded a $3.9 million effort in FY21 to convert the state-of-the-art ground-based laser prototypes to the final production configuration. The system will be delivered to Nellis AFB, Nevada, in December to support career field training as well as tactics, techniques and procedures incorporating the RADBO system, L-CBA, the prototype design completion on the Small Clearance Blade Assembly and an unmanned system application for Rapid Explosive Hazard Mitigation and Rapid Airfield Damage Repair vehicles.

By David Ford, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Public Affairs

SOFWERX – USSOCOM Autonomous Interoperability Standards Development Event

Saturday, October 23rd, 2021

SOFWERX, in collaboration with USSOCOM’s Directorate of Science and Technology (S&T) and Naval Special Warfare (NSW), will host the Autonomous Interoperability Standards Development Event, 07-09 December, 2021. In the Human Machine Teaming Aspects of Mission command, the objective is to bring together Special Operations Forces (SOF) representatives and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to assist USSOCOM in discerning the future of Autonomous Interoperability for Unmanned Air, Ground, Surface, and Underwater Systems (UxS). Focus areas will include but are not limited to sensors, communications, and platforms.

NSW has developed a vision for the future whose key elements include next generation UxS and autonomy solutions, and interoperable maritime and air assets. To do this effectively, NSW needs interoperability standards for the heterogeneous UxS platforms that they will use now and in the future. USSOCOM thus needs to develop and implement a set of interoperability standards that are not cumbersome, that are flexible, and that will support new technologies. They will also need to provide enough freedom for companies to use their creative approaches but with well-defined interfaces, messaging, communications, navigation, and control systems. Further, the backing of NSW and USSOCOM should provide an incentive for commercial players to rally around the new standards. This effort will support agility, wider government and commercial participation and ensure cost-effective development.

This event is restricted to U.S Citizens Only.

Submit NLT 29 October 11:59 PM ET, details at events.sofwerx.org/interoperability.

MCSC Begins Fielding Amphibious Robot System for Littoral Missions

Friday, October 22nd, 2021

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. —

In September, Marine Corps Systems Command began fielding an amphibious, unmanned robot system to support littoral operations globally.

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal Remotely Operated Vehicle is a next-generation, box-shaped robot that enables Marines to navigate safely and efficiently in shallow waters to identify and neutralize explosive hazards and other threats.

“This robot gives Marines eyes in the water,” said Master Sgt. Patrick Hilty, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal project officer at MCSC. “It is a capability the Marine Corps has never before had.”

The ROV employs sound navigation and ranging sensors, a high-definition video capability and cameras that provide real-time feedback for EOD divers. It includes an articulator arm that helps Marines maneuver through underwater foliage or neutralize explosive threats.

“It is a system that saves Marine divers from having to swim hundreds of meters, an activity that can tire them out,” said Hilty.

Marines can use the robot for various amphibious missions. For example, they can leverage the ROV to search harbors before docking a Marine Expeditionary Unit ship. Operators can use it for activities in very shallow waters, conducting littoral lost object searches, damage assessments and mine countermeasure missions.

Hilty applauded the ROV’s tether feature, which keeps EOD technicians at a safe distance from explosive hazards. Before the capability, Marine divers could only disrupt or dispose underwater explosive threats by swimming in close proximity, exposing them to hostile elements.

“The ROV gives us a remote means to search underwater while also helping us stay at our best when having to prosecute explosive devices,” said Hilty.

Master Sgt. Matthew Jackson, a staff non-commissioned officer in charge of 1st EOD Company’s Littoral Explosive Ordnance Neutralization section, said the ROV is highly stable in an underwater environment. He noted how the machine requires minimal equipment and reduces the Marine Corps’ overall footprint during operations.

“This intuitive system has the ability to complete critical underwater tasks much deeper than manned missions can,” said Jackson. “The ROV will serve as an important capability to support our tasks.”

Jackson also praised the system for its ease of use. He said it requires minimal training when compared with other unmanned underwater systems. This ultimately saves the Marine Corps time and money required for training.

“Instead of sending a Marine to a course for seven or eight weeks, it takes about four days to learn basic operations for successful employment,” said Jackson.

The ROV also supports naval integration. In 2019, the Navy acquired this commercial off-the-shelf capability. The service conducted a series of tests to determine its viability for EOD missions. These tests included reliability and maintenance evaluations to test its effectiveness and ease of employment during simulated activities.

“Testing conducted by the Navy allowed us to field this capability to Marines more quickly,” said Hilty. “Additionally, the Marine Corps and Navy both having this system increases interoperability among the services.”

The robot is the first increment in the Littoral Explosive Ordnance Neutralization Family of Systems. This series of robotic capabilities will allow Marines to search a wider area in the littorals, including the very shallow water, surf and beach zones.

This robot gives Marines eyes in the water.

– Master Sgt. Patrick Hilty, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal project officer at Marine Corps Systems Command

LEON systems, to be fielded gradually by MCSC over the next several years, will also help the Marine Corps complement Navy EOD teams in joint operations as it strives to evolve naval force integration in the future.

“Having this capability aids in naval force integration by giving us the same equipment that the Navy is using,” said Staff Sgt. Seth Barnes, EOD Technician with 1st EOD Company. “It allows us to bolt on with Navy EOD as we move forward.”

Achieving Force Design 2030 remains an ongoing, concerted effort for the Marine Corps, as repeatedly stated by Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger. This goal requires the acquisition of next-generation, unmanned systems, like the ROV, to support Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations.

“We’re bringing the EABO concept to the modern day,” said Ronald Diefenbach, a program analyst on the Explosive Hazard Team at MCSC. “Adhering to this concept, we can use the ROV to support Marines when operating from the littorals and while conducting island-hopping tasks.”

Hilty said the Marine Corps has never before leveraged waters for missions. In the past, Marines would begin operations from land, typically a beach. This new concept requires a shift in the paradigm in how the Marine Corps operates.

Fielding capabilities that conform to the vision to support an evolving naval fight will ultimately support the present and future Marine.

“We’ve always done this piece via the Navy,” said Hilty. “Now that the Marine Corps is doing it, we are learning valuable skillsets, becoming much better-rounded and proving to be a bigger asset to the MAGTF.”

Story by Matt Gonzales, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication

Photos by LCpl Kristy Ordonez Maldonado

Tomahawk Robotics Receives Award from Department of Defense to Strengthen the Domestic Small UAS Industrial Base

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

MELBOURNE, Fla., Oct. 19, 2021 // — Tomahawk Robotics, the leading innovator of common control solutions, is pleased to announce their Grip & Mimic controllers have received an award from the DoD for the Defense Production Act, Title III Program.

This award is part of the United States’ effort to expand domestic industrial base capabilities that are critical to the Department and the American Warfighter. The funding will be applied towards Tomahawk Robotics’ on-going prototyping effort with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) for the Soldier Robotic Controller Program (SRoC).

“We’re excited to work with DIU, an organization that values and recognizes the speed of technological change,” said Tomahawk Robotics’ CTO, Matt Summer.

Tomahawk Robotics is among 7 companies receiving this award on behalf of the DoD.

“This investment in the defense industrial base is intended to provide critical battlefield capabilities across the spectrum of conflict, including on-demand reconnaissance which augments service members’ capabilities and increases their survivability, lethality, and mission flexibility,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy Jesse Salazar.