Estonia’s Milrem Robotics has demonstrated the autonomous operation of its THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) during a live-fire event held at the Kolgu range in December 2017.
A THeMIS platform configured with FN Herstal’s deFNder remote weapon station was utilised for the live-fire portion of the event, the first time this configuration has been demonstrated in public, while the autonomous operation was conducted by another Type 3 system.
Speaking to Jane’s , the company’s chief executive officer, Kuldar Väärsi, said the system undertook GPS waypoint-based navigation, which represents an early stage in a plan to extend the autonomous operating capabilities of the system.
Autonomy is one of four areas that Milrem is focusing on for THeMIS, Väärsi said, along with a larger platform, several ongoing military programmes, and the development of operational doctrine for the system.
Väärsi pointed to perimeter protection and patrol duties as potential applications for the waypoint navigation function, and said ultimately the company will look to introduce higher degrees of autonomy; a short-term aim is to demonstrate a “follow-me” function during the 2018 iteration of the Estonian military’s Spring Storm exercise. Sensors on board the platform to enable this capability will include a 3-D LIDAR and stereoscopic cameras.
Further down the line, Väärsi said as the company develops its ‘wingman’ concept for THeMIS, aspects of artificial intelligence will be introduced to enable the system to better understand its operating environment. The development of the autonomous capabilities is being carried out in-house, Väärsi noted.
Väärsi explained that the larger platform – now referred to as the Type 4 THeMIS – is 30 cm longer than the current standard, and its development was driven by the requirements of the US Army’s Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport (SMET) programme and experience gained from testing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in early 2017.
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