Technological and Operational Problems Connected with Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) Application for Future Military Operations
In the near future more than 50% of population will live in urban areas. The development of military operation methods, especially in urban and asymmetric operations, will require new equipment and methods to reduce the loss of soldiers’ and civilians’ lives. These methods also relate to unmanned systems development by enabling the application of advanced technology for ISTAR (Information, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance), transportation, protection and precision strikes on enemy positions/objects. These vehicles could also be used for engineering work in contaminated environments and other “dull, dirty or dangerous” tasks. Progress of unmanned platforms is visible during the introduction of the newest systems of armaments. The necessity of developing unmanned vehicles technology is underlined in the documents and reports detailing the current needs of NATO ”Land Operation 2020”, ”Urban Operation 2020”, ”Strategic Vision: The Military Challenge,” and others. Presented also within these documents are requirements relating to the conditions of use of new unmanned systems for direct support on the battlefield, and these operations require increasing levels of unmanned system autonomy. As new technology is developed, unmanned vehicles will become the battlefield elements of the structure of contemporary land forces and their future combat systems.
The Specialists’ Meeting was held from 20-22nd April 2015 in Rzeszow, Poland during the 35th Applied Vehicle Technology (AVT) Panel Meeting Week. The theme was the current technological challenges that must be overcome to enable the increased use of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) for NATO missions. Presenting both UGV hardware systems and software algorithms the current state-of-the-art in UGV technologies was demonstrated, to help promote interoperability of UGV systems between NATO nations, and to provide key insights into lessons learned from the fielding of UGV systems.
The meeting gave the required framework for the exchange of existing information about novel UGV systems (development, designing, manufacturing, testing, education and training) and current data on employment of UGVs in military operations. Taking into account Lessons Learned experiences resulting from NATO missions, the meeting also identified the concepts of employment in asymmetric conflicts and problems connected with future urban military operations by using UGVs.
This was an excellent forum to discuss the common methodology of testing the UGVs and to prioritize the areas for potential collaborative international R&D.
Overall 16 papers were presented from USA, Poland, Latvia, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Portugal, and Norway. A wide mix of NATO nations participated, and a broad range of topics were covered during the four sessions of the meeting, which included Mission Operations, Reliability, Interoperability, and Human-Machine Interfacing, Mobility and Path Planning and Software and Autonomy. This led to very interesting, effective and fruitful discussions.
There were two presentations given by Keynote Speakers: Col Robert KUROWSKI, Deputy Director of Science and Military Education Department in Polish MOD, National R&T Director in Defence Area, Polish Principal Board Member in STB NATO STO on Polish Defence and Security R&T System and Mitchell M. ROHDE, Ph.D., Quantum Signal LLC, United States on Mobile Robotics, ANVEL, and the Pressing Need for Simulation.
A dynamic UGV demonstration was also held during the Specialists’ Meeting with 8 UGVs: two from OTOMelaraS.p.A, Spain, two from Military University of Technology, Poland and four from Industrial Research Institute for Automation and Measurements PIAP, Poland. A movie of the hardware demonstration conducted as part of the Specialists’ Meeting can be viewed below.
By Col (Rtd) Jozef WRONA, Ph.D., Eng., POL, Mr. Jeff DURST, USA and Dipl.-Ing. Dirk Zimper, AVT-Executive