Unmanned Ground Vehicles

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TAROS V2 6x6 wheeled vehicle was unveiled in December 2014. Image courtesy of VOP CZ.


Artist’s rendering of TAROS V2 vehicle. Image courtesy of VOP CZ.

The TAROS V2 vehicle provides combat and logistic support services in reconnaissance and combat operations. Image courtesy of VOP CZ.

The TAROS V2 vehicle comes in 4x4/6x6/8x8 configurations. Image courtesy of VOP CZ.

AROS V2 is a 6x6 wheeled, unmanned, all-terrain, modular and automated robotic ground vehicle unveiled in December 2014. The vehicle was developed by VOP CZ in collaboration with its subsidiary Centre for Advanced Field Robotics (CAFR), and Tactical Department of the Faculty of Military Leadership of the University of Defence in Brno.

The TAROS V2 provides combat and logistic support in high-risk areas and complex environments. It was developed under the 21st century Soldier Programme for the army of the Czech Republic (ACR).

TAROS V2 design features
The TAROS V2 is identical to the Lockheed Martin Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) in appearance and functionality. The vehicle is also available in a 4x4 configuration, which can be upgraded to 4x4, 6x6 and 8x8 remote-controlled configurations. The enlarged configurations can be fitted with a range of accessories, including weapon, robotic or sensor systems. The vehicle's design offers low operating and logistics costs.

"The TAROS V2 provides combat and logistic support in high-risk areas and complex environments."
In all configurations, the vehicle is powered by accumulators of the 4x4 module. The module can be recharged by the ND 6050D charger powered by a combustion engine housed in the 2x2E module.

The 4x4 module also houses command-and-control electronics and a modular sensor suite. An additional 2x2R module with a remote-controlled knuckle boom crane can expand the operating capabilities of the unmanned ground vehicle (UGVs) for remote-controlled operations in the high-risk environments.

Each wheel of the UGV is equipped with 10kW electro-motor drive-train, transmission and suspension systems, as well as an electro-mechanical actuator for steering. The damaged wheels or electro motor of the vehicle can be easily be replaced by the soldiers using onboard tool kit.

The vehicle measures 2.74m long, 1.77m wide and 2.04m high when the column is down and 2.54m when extended. The gross weight in the standard 6x6 configuration is approximately 1,400kg.

Weapon system attached to TAROS V2
The TAROS V2 is armed with a remote controlled gun carriage developed by the Defence University in Brno. The gun carriage can accommodate personal weapons such as a CZ 805 BREN automatic assault rifle.

The vehicle features a robotic weapon system to support fighting activities of the mechanised, reconnaissance and Special Forces operating in tough and complex conditions. The robotic weapon system mounted on the vehicle has a length of 4.4m, width of 2.5m and height of 2.8m without weapons.

The robotic weapon system weighs 13kg and is powered by 36V electric system.

TAROS V2 engine and performance
The TAROS V2 is powered by electric/hybrid propulsion system. Each wheel is driven by an electric motor, which develops a power of 4.8kW.

The vehicle can be used as a standard load-bearing platform, a forward operational platform to launch and recover micro-unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), a mobile communications command post and a land mine / IED detection system.

TAROS V2 Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) - Army Technology
 

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Turkey to develop unmanned tanks, president says
By: The Associated Press
22.02.2018

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s president says the country will develop unmanned tanks to minimize risks to soldiers in combat.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the plan Wednesday during a speech delivered at a conference on Turkey’s five-year development plan.
His comments came as Turkey’s military is carrying out a cross-border offensive in Syria to clear a border enclave of Syrian Kurdish rebels.

“We need to be able to manufacture unmanned tanks, and we will do this,” he said. “We are becoming a country that is catching this technology.”
The Turkish leader said that U.S. refusal to provide Turkey with drones in the past had forced the country to develop and produce its own.

https://www.defensenews.com/unmanned/2018/02/21/turkey-to-develop-unmanned-tanks-president-says/
 

Eagle1

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Dirty Work: Robots take on complex breach as Army evaluates potential
By: Jen Judson  
10 May 2019

An up close look at a robotic Assault Breacher Vehicle which cleared mines during a combined arms breach exercise at Yakima Training Center in Washington State May 7. (Photo by Jen Judson/Defense News staff)

YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. — The Army conducted an elaborate robotic combined arms breach exercise at Yakima Air Base in Washington State this month to figure out how robots can best take on the dangerous and dirty work and the technology, tactics, techniques and procedures that are needed for unmanned vehicles to be effective on the battlefield.

Gen. Mike Murray, the Army Futures Command commander, landed via UH-60 Black Hawk on a high desert plateau at Yakima Training Center, May 7, with a University of Texas engineer in tow who specializes in robotics, to check out the progress made by the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment of the 1st Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Stryker Brigade Combat Team, led by Lt. Col. Jonathan Fursman, in assessing robotic breach capabilities as part of Bayonet Focus and the Joint Warfighting Assessment 2019.

JWA is an annual exercise meant for experimentation of new and emerging concepts and capabilities. It has been held at Fort Bliss, Texas, and in Germany. This year it is back stateside but the plan is to return to Europe in 2020.

“We never, ever want to send another soldier into a breach, so how do we do this completely autonomously,” Murray said, adding this is the problem set he’s laid out for engineers and for the Army to try to figure out.

Murray’s command is less than a year old, but it has hit the ground running to carry out it’s mission to rapidly modernize the Army with a focus on six priorities: Long-Range Precision Fires, Next-Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV), Future Vertical Lift (FVL), the Network, Air-and-Missile Defense and Soldier Lethality.

Within the NGCV portfolio, the Army will evaluate and prototype robotic combat vehicles,but, according to Murray, the technology isn’t the challenge, it’s figuring out the utility of robots and how they can best be used on the battlefield, which means understanding shortcomings and advantages of the technology.

“It’s not necessarily the hardware, it’s about the employment of robotics and the human-robotics interfaces that we have to look at,” Murray told Defense News, who accompanied him on the trip.

The Army continues to introduce complexity to its breach exercises, adding more layers to this year’s evaluation over last year’s at the JWA 18 in Germany to include flying a Black Hawk helicopter overhead that spits out two unmanned aircraft systems — called Air-Launched Effects or ALE — thousands of feet above the earth to perform surveillance and reconnaissance of enemy terrain. That capability is in its infancy but is part of the FVL modernization efforts underway.


“The robotics piece of this is not the hard part,” Murray said. “The hard part is figuring out where it makes sense, how they interact, how they adapt, how soldiers do certain things now that they have robotic capability.

“There are a lot of things we have to work through,” he said.

Fursman, as well as Captain Nichole Rotte, commander of Bravo Company, 23rd Brigade Engineer Battalion, were tasked to design the breach obstacles and how robots might overcome them, but also to think about how to challenge those robots in a complex and realistic scenario.

Robots don’t get to just roll up to enemy-arranged obstacles on a real battlefield and bust through them without a fight, so Bravo Company took on the challenge of figuring how robots can be useful breaching obstacles like mine fields, concertina wire and anti-tank trenches while under fire in order to clear the way for an assault into enemy territory.

The Army has come a long way, even in just the past few years. In 2017, at Fort Benning, Georgia, the Maneuver Center of Excellence held a demonstration of robotic combat vehicle capability, showcasing its efforts to develop a robotic wingman within the maneuver force and how to incorporate robotic capability within a tank formation, but the demonstration lacked a complex operational scenario and difficult obstacles for the robots to overcome.

The breach exercise at Yakima challenged a wide array of robots with an obstacle layered with mine fields, wire and a deep trench.
In addition to surveillance from the ALE, the Alabama National Guard launched a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) quad-copter from a reconnaissance vehicle to assess any chemical agents used in creating obstacles as well as a Puma UAS to also check out the obstacles ahead of sending in robotic vehicles.

And the unit deployed a smoke screen using a robotic Polaris MRZR with the capability of maintaining a thick and steady plume for roughly 30 minutes.

To conduct the actual breach, Rotte’s unit used two surrogate NGCVs to secure the area and provide suppression fire — a Humvee and an M113 armored personnel carrier both equipped with a 7.62 machine gun. The Humvee was controlled by another Humvee and the M113 was controlled by an operator in a Stryker both maintaining line-of-sight, positioned in low ground beneath the plateau.

With the enemy suppressed, two robotic assault breacher vehicles controlled by a Marine Corps unit began to tackle the obstacles. Both robotic vehicles were controlled from a single command vehicle.

The first ABV employed a mine clearing line charge and then cleared a path for the second ABV, inserting stakes in the ground as it moved forward to mark where it was safe for the second ABV to drive through with a blade to tackle filling in the tank trench.

Once the ABV was able to fill in the ditch, it drove through, paving the way for an assault force to move in on the enemy location.

The first time the breach exercise was conducted, the entire operation took two-and-a-half hours, according to Rotte, but the second time around the operators were able to shave off 30 minutes and proved that robotics can accomplish the same breach over roughly the same time as a manned operation would.

The units conducting the breach are already taking away lessons learned and thinking about questions raised through the employment of robotics on a complex battlefield.

Sticking out like a sore thumb
One of the bigger issues is the electronic signature given off by a group of robots on a battlefield so the Army took the opportunity to assess the implications of that reality during the robotic breach exercise.

“I worry about the links in terms of it being secure,” Murray said. There are lots of things we gotta work through.”
Fursman said a lot of thinking went into how to obscure the robotic activity, which was largely achieved through a physical smoke screen, but also electronically.

“This is a robotic breach, so you are going to have electronic signatures, so jamming is a threat for example,” Fursman said.

The exercise included a mounted and dismounted electronic warfare capability used to detect enemy locations in order to deploy anti-tank round equipped Single Multipurpose Attack Munitions (SMAMs) — also known as Kamikaze drones — onto targets. The capability was also used to jam enemy frequencies.

But even with those capabilities, the noisy signatures of robotics and the capability of the enemy to jam them is a cause for concern, Fursman noted.
So the unit tried to deceive the enemy forces by emitting a larger signature on the far side of the plateau to make it look like it was massing in another location through a lot of radio traffic and other signatures, Fursman said.

This would work if the enemy could only see the force electronically, Fursman said. “They’d see a much bigger signature over here, while we were tucked in behind terrain here waiting to begin the operation.”

But once the enemy has eyes on the robots conducting the breach, “the last thing I’m worried about is electronic signature,” Murray added.

What if an 80-ton robot dies in a ditch?
A less than ideal scenario would be for an 80-ton robot filling in a trench, for instance, to go down in the middle of breaching the obstacle.

And so the Army is wrestling with what happens when a breach vehicle is taken out. “Can you just bring in another one,” Murray said, mulling over the scenario, “you can’t. You only have one lane, you are not going to push it out of the way, so you are starting a new breach lane if that happens.”
Rotte said she and her unit are thinking about solutions. “How do I push it through the breach? How do I recover it? What’s the next step,” she said.

“We have come up with a couple of TTPs if we lose the robotics or if something happens,” like bringing in operators via Stryker to move the trucks manually through a breach, Rotte added. “But are there other options?”

One idea, she noted, might be to send in more expendable vehicles that are easier to push out of the way and leave on the battlefield.

Murray brainstormed the use of smaller vehicles to perform certain tasks like detonating mines, or perhaps using 1113s. “We’ve got thousands and thousands of 113s that we could make robotic and that are completely expendable,” he said. “The more you can get to expendable assets to do this the better off you are going to be.”

The robotic breach also triggers the debate over what the Army should procure in the future and how those capabilities should be deployed.
Should the Army send in high-tech, expensive, and heavily armored optionally manned vehicles to conduct operations like breaches or can the service design robotic vehicles “that are a little bit more skeleton with all the breaching equipment so if it doesn’t make it, it doesn’t make it, and you just buy more for the redundancy factor,” Rotte said.

How much autonomy is ideal?
All of the vehicles used in the breach were robotic, controlled by soldiers in the backs of manned vehicles staying back out of harm’s way.

For most of the soldiers operating the robots, training began just three short weeks prior. Most operators said they were proficient in less than a few days.

One of the ways that made learning easy was because the Army designed the control systems for the robots with Xbox controllers, with which many soldiers are instantly familiar.

Operators did say there is still latency when it comes to the sensor and video feeds from cameras on the robots but it was barely an issue.

And the robots were not particularly difficult to maneuver, while there are still some issues to work through, according to the operators.

But Rotte’s team did mull the level of autonomy that might be appropriate to take some of the burden off of manned crews staying back, but for the purpose of the breach exercise, operators stayed entirely in the loop.

The Army will continue to add complexity in robotic operational exercises, according to Murray, as it figures out how to adopt capability into a modernized force either through applications in the current fleet or in future vehicles.


 
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Rheinmetall Mission Master – The ultimate Unmanned Ground Vehicle

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Russia vs. America: Which Nation Will Dominate Unmanned Ground Vehicles?
We have some ideas.
August 11, 2018
by Charlie Gao



Following the Russian deployment of the Uran-9 Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) in Syria, many people have speculated what the role of such vehicles might be in future conflicts. While the deployment of the Uran-9 was a failure by most accounts, the technology behind it is progressing rapidly and the next deployment will likely be more successful. America is also developing its own series of unmanned ground vehicles, but how do they compare to Russia’s UGVs? Should they even be compared?

Most of the information regarding America’s strategy for developing UGVs can be found in an Army publication titled “The U.S. Army Robotics and Autonomous Systems Strategy.” In it, the Army details five capability objectives that they would like to achieve with UGVs: Increasing situational awareness, lightening the cognitive and physical workload of the soldier, sustaining the force through better logistics, facilitating movement and maneuver, and protecting the force.

The objectives are ordered in the order in which they are expected to be achieved. From that, it’s evident that the Army is in no rush to field combat UGVs. To increase situational awareness, the Army plans to field “small UGS” to complement UAVs that perform similar functions, which are unarmed. Reducing the amount of equipment carried would involve the introduction of a light tactical logistics UGV that can provide power and supplies to soldiers.

Sustainment is planned to be carried out by a military version of self-driving trucks, allowing supply convoys to drive with less risk and reducing the amount of manpower required to perform such tasks. This is supported in the Army’s vignette of urban operations in 2025, which depicts a squad being supported by logistics and reconnaissance UGVs, but no combat UGVs.

Combat UGVs only really enter the picture with the last two tasks: to facilitate movement and maneuver and protecting the force. For facilitating movement and maneuver, the document mentions ensuring “UAS possess the reach, protection, and lethality required for manned/unmanned combined arms maneuver,” implying that they will be armed.

In contrast, Russia appears to be focusing on Combat UGVs first and foremost. The Uran-9 is designed as a weapons carrying platform first and foremost. It’s designed to be modular, with different turrets providing different sets of armament for different environments and roles.

The Uran-9 and other UGVs developed by Russia appear to be focused on the role of spearheading offensive operations and neutralizing enemy positions in close cooperation with a supporting conventional unit. By sending a robot to go fight, Russia plans to reduce casualties during urban operations and breakthroughs.

The armament fit of their UGVs belies this role. They’re loaded with weapons that were proven to be effective in the urban combat Russia experienced during the Chechnyan Wars: thermobaric rocket launchers, autocannons, and machine guns. Russian efforts to develop unmanned versions of the BMP-3, T-72B3, and Armata all reflect a similar purpose, a desire to use robots in direct combat.

This belies a fundamental difference in philosophy between the U.S. Army’s plan and Russia’s plan. The U.S. Army’s plan focuses more on freeing up manpower to actually fight and reducing risk through gathering more information. When the Army discusses combat UGVs, there’s a significant emphasis on them having the autonomy to move and find targets on their own.

Russia’s UGVs aren’t focused on AI in such a way. In their push for Combat UGVs, AI has taken the back burner to simply putting a vehicle out there that a human operator can control remotely. Both schools of thought have the UGVs navigating the most dangerous terrain on the battlefield, but the U.S. Army wants for the robots to be able to do it themselves.

There are benefits to both sides. Russia’s approach would be more useful in an immediate low-intensity conflict at reducing casualties, provided the technical kinks get worked out. In a low-intensity conflict, reducing the manpower cost of operations isn’t as much of a priority as reducing casualties, which Combat UGVs would be more important at.

On the other hand, it’s easy to see where the Army’s desire for automated logistics comes from. Running long supply convoys is stressful and dangerous for soldiers, and having a robot truck get blown up by an IED is far better than having a manned truck do the same. Both approaches have advantages in a future low-intensity conflict, Russia just puts more emphasis on the killing aspect.

The American approach would also allow for the slow development of technologies for the semiautonomous Combat UGV. Making recon UGVs before combat UGVs would lower risk and allow for the sensor systems and command and control network to mature before the role of those UGVs was stepped up to direct combat. That would avoid some embarrassing situations like a total loss of contact for fifteen minutes that the Uran-9 suffered.

Charlie Gao studied Political and Computer Science at Grinnell College and is a frequent commentator on defense and national security issues.

 

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