SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
tion, each of the robots was stopped at
the midpoint of the course and programmed with a new set of waypoints to
follow to exit the course. The waypoints
led to a final set of obstacles, a water
crossing and then passage through a
rocky culvert, Falkenberry says.
Another key part of the event
was determining how effective the
machines were at leader/follower sys-
tems. This technology consists of a
handheld controller or a device worn
on a soldier’s belt that the robot then
follows at a certain distance. If the sol-
dier stops, the robot will stop. If the
soldier moves around and through
underbrush and obstacles, the robot
will follow, altering its course if neces-
sary to maneuver around an object.
Falkenberry notes that the control
device is intended to allow soldiers to
do their jobs and keep their hands on
their weapon while the robot automatically follows.
The demonstration highlighted sev-
eral issues about the current state of
UGV technology. The first is that no
single UGV has all the answers to the
service’s needs, Falkenberry relates.
Another issue is that leader/follower
technology still needs refinement. The
Army’s goal is for soldiers wearing the
control device to be able to do their jobs
in combat and not have to constant-
ly mind the UGVs. The UGVs would
automatically follow and carry out any
direct commands as instructed. But the
technology still needs work. “It’s not at
that point, based on what we saw, that
the soldier doesn’t have to personally
intervene,” he says.
The leader/follower evaluations
Eight robots participated in the Squad-Multipurpose
Equipment Transport (S-MET) part of the Army demonstration:
n The Carry-all Modular Equipment Landrover (CaMEL), developed by Northrop Grumman,
is a midsized, multimission UGV designed to carry squad supplies, haul ammunition for
mortar units, evacuate casualties and clear antipersonnel mine routes. It also can operate
as a mobile communications platform and robotic weapon system. The CaMEL has a top speed
of 5 miles per hour over rough terrain with a 1,000-pound load. It also has a hybrid power
source—a diesel engine combined with a battery—capable of providing more than 20 hours
of constant operation on 3. 5 gallons of fuel. The UGV can also generate its own power
to supply soldiers’ electronics and other systems, company officials say.
n Protector, developed by HDT Global, is a small-tracked vehicle powered by a 32-horsepower
turbo diesel engine. The UGV can carry 1,250 pounds of equipment and can be modified for autonomous operations with a company-provided kit. The robot can carry out a number of missions: mine
clearance, construction, evacuating/transporting wounded and fire support with an M-153 CROWS
remote weapons system. Protector has a range of more than 60 miles on its 15-gallon fuel tank and
can run on diesel or JP8 fuel. It can also general 2 kilowatts of electrical power for warfighters.
n The Mission Unmanned Ground Vehicle Squad Support (MUGV-SS),
developed by DRS Technologies.
n The Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) by Lockheed Martin is a six-wheeled
UGV designed to carry soldiers’ equipment. The UGV was deployed with U.S. forces in
Afghanistan in 2012 on an experimental basis to support troops in the field. The SMSS can be
modified for a number of missions, from cargo transport, fire support and medical evacuation;
to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations. It can be tele-operated or run in an
autonomous mode. Capable of hauling 1,500 pounds of cargo, the robot has a range of
125 miles on one tank of fuel and it can serve as a battery charging station.
n The ACER, developed by Mesa Tech, is a diesel-powered, tracked UGV. Capable of carrying
2,000 pounds, it can be modified for a variety of mission such as mine clearance and construction.
n Raider II by QinetiQ North America is a small transport vehicle, which the company refers to as a
mule. The four-wheeled, diesel-powered UGV can carry up to 1,750 pounds of cargo and tow 2,000
pounds. The vehicle has a built-in battery charger to accommodate standard military batteries.
With a top speed to 35 miles per hour, it can operate in manned and unmanned modes.
n The Segway 440X by 5D Robotics is a four-wheeled cargo robot built around the
core technology of the civilian scooter and ruggedized for military operations.
n The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Legged Squad Support System (LS3)
is a larger, more robust version of the agency’s Big Dog legged robot. The LS3 can haul
400 pounds of equipment and follow infantry into rough terrain.
participated in the
live fire exercise:
n The armed version of
the CaMEL, the Mobile
Armed Dismount Support
System is designed to
be fitted with a variety of
such as the MK- 19
M2 . 50 caliber heavy
machine gun, M-240/249
machine gun and
25- and 30-millimeter
n HDT’s Protector
UGV fitted with
a CROWS system.
n Irobot’s 710 Warrior
UGV, which was
equipped with a remote
n QinetiQ North America’s
Armed Robotic System
(MAARS) robot. This
tracked robot is designed
to provide troops with
fire support as a mobile
For simplicity and ease
of testing, all four robots
were equipped with
the same type of
M-240 machine gun.