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Robotic Combat Vehicles

  • Magazine Article
  • 20AERP05_04
Published May 01, 2020 by SAE International in United States
  • English

Putting the Brains Behind the Brawn

A new era of Robotic Combat Vehicles (RCV) is about to begin. The U.S. Army is getting ready to evaluate competing candidates to meet requirements for light and medium versions of a new class of modular unmanned ground vehicle (UGV). Designed to be controlled in the field via remote control, and in the future, autonomously, these new robot tanks have the potential to revolutionize ground warfare. We witnessed the debut of this emerging class of “robo-tank” when the Ripsaw M5 was unveiled by the team of Textron Systems, Howe & Howe, and FLIR Systems at the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) Conference, in October 2019. A couple months later, in January, the Army announced contracts to buy eight experimental RCVs for use in wargame tests next year. QinetiQ North America, along with its partner Pratt & Miller, was selected to provide four of their EMAV robots (Expeditionary Modular Autonomous Vehicles). Textron was tapped to provide four of the Ripsaw M5s.

Textron's booth at a recent AUSA (Association of the United States Army) trade show, just a couple booths away from our own, gave us a good look at their electric-diesel hybrid motor-powered Ripsaw M5 prototype. The Ripsaw embraces a ground-breaking scalable approach that uses common components and common drive systems. This enables the same RCV platform to be configured as needed to satisfy a wide range of mission requirements, with options such as different payloads and suspension packages. This modular approach enables the RCV to address real-time situational awareness, route clearing/breaching and weapon system applications.