CBRNE & EOD Defence

ECA examines unmanned teaming, RC mine clearance

08 May 2017
An Iguana UGV conducts an EOD mission while an IT180 UAV provides overwatch. Source: ECA Group

France's ECA Group is working on teaming concepts of operation (CONOPS) for its IT180 series of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and Iguana E unmanned ground vehicle (UGV); the company is also developing a remote-control (RC) system to enable stand-off mine clearance.

One teaming concept aims to provide increased situational awareness and overwatch for engineering teams conducting explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and improvised explosive device (IED) tasks, and envisages the feed from an IT180 aircraft's electro-optical/infrared payload displayed to the operators of the UGV to provide them with visibility of the movement of the ground platform when it is outside of the operator's view.

ECA Group's Francis Durufle said the development of the Iguana E is complete and that the platform is undergoing final qualification work before trials and demonstrations with potential customers take place.

Iguana E has been designed with operations in confined spaces as a key requirement, such as on aircraft. The vehicle also has enhanced mobility, with four independently articulated tracks that enable it to traverse larger steps and inclines. It can optionally be configured with wheels to support higher-speed movement.

An improved operator unit has been developed for Iguana E, which incorporates a touchscreen interface and multiple controller options, including joysticks and a gamepad-style device. The control elements can also be used with existing ECA UGVs.

While the UGV and UAS are currently operated via separate control units, Durufle said work has begun to develop a single unit that can control its UASs and UGVs to simplify the operation of the different platforms.

For the Systeme De Pollution Zone (SDZ) solution, ECA is working with UK-based Armtrac as the platform supplier and is leveraging its RC technology to provide the ability to operate a mine clearance vehicle at distances of up to 300 m.

The SDZ has been under development for about 18 months, Durfule said, adding that it should be complete in the second quarter of 2018 at the latest.

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