Editorial Feature

Unmanned Combat Robots

In military applications, unmanned systems are stationary and mobile military systems without a human operator aboard. The key categories of unmanned systems are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) and unattended ground sensors (UGSs). Unmanned ground combat vehicles include robotic non-line-of-sight fire weapon systems and robotic direct fire.

Sandor Munk (2003) from the Zrínyi Miklós National Defence University in his paper - Information capabilities for robots of the future battlefield - has explained about unmanned combat robots.

The applications of unmanned ground vehicles in land combat operations include:

  • Neutralization, detection, breaching of minefields and other obstacles
  • Surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition
  • Explosive ordnance disposal, physical security, force protection
  • Urban warfare, weapons employment and operations in denied and contaminated regions.

Design of Unmanned Combat Robots

Thornhill L et al (2003) elaborated the design of an unmanned ground combat vehicle evolved by the SAIC team. This design offers exceptional performance against all program metrics and includes major attributes required for high-performance robotic combat vehicles.

Protection against C1330 and CH47 transportability, 7.62 mm threats and the ability to accept the payload of several relevant weapons are included in this performance.

The UGCV design is based on features that focus on payload, mobility and endurance goals without sacrificing survivability or life cycle cost. This design was validated against detailed simulations indicating that the vehicle exceeded the Category I metrics.

High fidelity Visual Nastran vehicle models were used to analyze the mobility metrics that incorporate controller cycle time and suspension control algorithms.

Working of Unmanned Combat Robots

It is anticipated that in future combat, there will be multiple layers of interactions between autonomous systems, semi-autonomous systems and war fighters.

Robotic teams can complete tasks more effectively and quickly than a single agent working independently on a task. Robotic coordination in combat tasks may include:

  • Hierarchical coordination (organizations)
  • Reactive coordination (swarms)
  • Centralized coordination (master-slaves)
  • Decentralized coordination (partners).

The participants of a given robot cooperation can be homogenous robots with identical capabilities or heterogenous robots with specialized capabilities.

At Present, there are a number of autonomous ground vehicles that have been introduced as a test to understand the capabilities of such systems including DARPA’s Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicle and Perceptor Integration System’ also known as the Crusher.

The crusher is a 13,200-pound unmanned ground combat vehicle developed by a research team at Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center for DARPA. The video shows the Crusher in action with a demonstration of how it uses the integrated local perception system to navigate. Video courtesy of DARPA

One of the key objectives of future combat systems is to use robots as a force multiplier so that one soldier can initiate a large-scale robot attack from the ground and air.

Products – Latest Advancements

Latest product advancements in combat robots are discussed below:

aEgis I

The aEgis robot from DoDaam, armed with a machine gun or a rifle detects, monitors and tracks multiple intruders simultaneously. The aEgis robot is equipped with the CCD camera, IR sensor and laser illuminator and detects any intruder in complete darkness or at any environment.

aEgis II

The aEgis II from DoDaam is armed with a M60 machine gun and is equipped with a CCD camera, thermal IR sensor and laser sensor detecting any intruder at any environment and also in total darkness.

The features of the aEgis II are:

  • Remote ammo loading system
  • Advanced gyro aided stabilization
  • Video image stabilization
  • Built-in test system for failure detection
  • Stand alone and slave mode operation.

Super aEgis I

The Super aEgis I from DoDaam is armed with a 40 mm automatic grenade launcher (AGL), portable surface to air missile and tracks intruders. The system is an autonomous, lightweight, and has an electrically controlled weapon system.

Athena

Athena from DoDaam is capable of patrolling a specific area and suppressing intruders remotely or automatically. It operates on all terrains in all weather conditions and is highly effective if combined with aEgis or Super aEgis.

Sources and Further Reading

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