Logistics have always been an important part of successful warfare. Military transportation robots can increase the efficiency of logistics as well as aid soldiers in movement. There are a lot of things to move both on the battlefield as well as in its vicinities like weapons, ammunition, and different supplies. In the end, causalities also have to be picked up from the battlefield. This is where robots in military transportation come into the story.
Autonomous Platform Demonstrator
The Autonomous Platform Demonstrator or APD is a military transportation robot.U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering center – TARDEC developed it. It’s a 9.6-ton heavy and 15-foot long UGV.
It has a hybrid-electric drive train with six in-hub electric motors powered by li-ion batteries charged using an on-board diesel generator. The APD is a skid steer vehicle that can pivot-turn in place. Other technologies include a lightweight hull, an advanced suspension system, and others.
A soldier can control in real-time by or it can operate autonomously. Autonomously it can operate at speeds up to 50 mph. It can travel along a GPS waypoint route and avoid obstacles in its way.
The robotic vehicle can overcome 1-meter high obstacles and navigate 60 degree steep slopes. The culmination of this program is Soldier Operation Experiments in 2010. Eventually it will become the main test platform for the RVCA (Robot Vehicle Control Architecture) Army Technology Objective.
Xbox 360 controller can remotely control R-gator. It can move autonomously along a pre-programmed route using GPS. And a driver can drive it too. The switching between these modes is very easy.
It helps to remotely inspect areas of interest and autonomously patrol and send a video stream back to the command center. It helps in safe extraction of causalities and to transport cargo.
R-gator comes with an Operator control unit. That is basically a computer and an xbox controller. Optionally, a wearable operator control unit is also available.
The iRobot warrior is actually a multipurpose military robot that can be equipped with different tools, thus making it capable of different tasks. It can carry payloads around 70 kg (150 pounds). This enables it to be used for extraction of causalities, transportation of hazardous materials and others.
Its main advantage is agility. Because of its rather unique design, it can overcome stairs and slopes up to 45 degrees, gaps up to 61 cm and vertical obstacles up to 47 cm. Not all military transportation robots are able to do such things. It is intended to be used on rough terrain as well as in urban environments.
It can be remotely controlled or preprogrammed to move along a GPS route. It has the capability to avoid obstacles as well. iRobot is also equipped with an intelligent payload positioning system. So, the chances are it will get to its destination no matter what.
ACER stands for Armored Combat Engineer Robot. Mesa robotics made it. This is a real heavy-weight robot – it weighs about 2 tons and can carry a payload of about 1 ton. On top of that, its arm can lift more than 400 kilograms.
It can do other tasks as well – such as landmine disposal, route clearance, and others. One of its main advantages is the ease of maintenance. Standard tools are enough for maintaing.
Squad Mission Support System – an all-terrain unmanned ground vehicle. Just as r-gator, it can be remotely controlled using a controller, driven by a human and it can work autonomously.
The main idea of this vehicle is to lighten the burden of soldiers. It is done, literally, by taking part of the load off them. SMSS can carry around half a ton of payload. It is approximately the weight of a 10 soldier squad’s load.
It can avoid obstacles and clear a given route on its own. The interesting thing is that this UGV was also made in cooperation of two companies – Land Tamer which has great experience in making all-terrain amphibians and Lockheed Martin which has a long history of military R&D.
MULE stands for Multifunction Utility/Logistics and Equipment vehicle. It intend to have a few variations.
The transport variation of mule can carry equipment and supplies of two infantry squads. It can be modified to allow it to carry almost all possible cargos, including causalities.
The main advantage of this system is its unique suspension and propulsion. Every wheel is driven separately. This ensures great off-road capability and it is diesel-electric.
Boston Dynamics developed the BigDog. The amazing stuff is their movement capabilities.
BigDog is not an exception. It has legs and so it can walk. And this walking capability is quite astonishing. It can keep its balance even when kicked from the side.
The idea is quite similar to the rest of the robots above mentioned. It carries supplies for soldiers in order to help them in their missions. The main advantage is its legs. Because of its walking capabilities, it can go where most wheeled and treaded robots are helpless. Hydraulics are used to move its legs and a diesel motor is used to drive the hydraulic pump.