Robotics Rodeo unveils remote-controlled warfare

Engineering firms demonstrate latest in unmanned vehicles for Army

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 10, 2013 

Plenty of firepower was on display Thursday at Fort Benning's Robotics Rodeo.

Four armed unmanned ground vehicles being assessed this week by the Maneuver Battle Lab of the Maneuver Center of Excellence quickly wiped out targets about 150 meters away in a live fire demonstration at Red Cloud Range on 1st Division Road. The weaponry on the vehicles is capable of hitting targets much further away.

Squad multipurpose equipment transport systems are also being assessed this week.

"Robots are a way to get more firepower in quickly," said Donald Sando, director of capabilities development and integration for the Maneuver Center of Excellence. "Soldiers can only carry so much equipment."

Sando said the use of the robotics is as much about soldier protection as anything else.

The armed unmanned group system serves two purposes on the battlefield. The first is assault, the ability to move and fire with small units and destroy the enemy. The second is reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition, the ability to extend the small unit's ability to find, fix and engage the enemy with direct or indirect fire.

One of the vehicles in action was the 710 Warrior, produced by the iRobot Corporation.

According to the company, it can accommodate many different remote weapons systems, carry a heavy payload over rough terrain and can also climb stairs.

Another vehicle firing at targets was the Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System, produced by QinetiQ North America.

It can be positioned in remote areas where personnel are currently unable to monitor security and can also carry a direct or indirect fire weapon system.

The Protector was also on display. Produced by HDT Robotics, it is designed specifically to support dismounted infantry. It's less than three feet wide, able to climb 45 degree grades and can carry 750 pounds of gear and another 500 in a trailer.

Northrop Grumman was showing off its mobile armed dismount support system. The CaMEL UGS is designed to support early entry light units during the first few days of force projection operations before follow-on heavier wheeled and armored forces are available.

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