Unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) technology, which was once mainly focused on explosive ordnance disposal, appears to be shifting somewhat towards addressing chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) threats.
The shift could be due to recent CBRNE activity – such as the March nerve agent attack in Salisbury, UK, as well as an alleged chemical incident in Douma, Syria, and recent Islamic State group calls for biological attacks on the West.
On 26 July, for example, a collaboration agreement was signed between Croatian mine-clearing vehicle manufacturer DOK-ING and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to produce a CBRNE UGV. IAI General Manager for Robotic Systems Division Meir Shabtai told Jane’s , “The first prototypes of the platform are expected to be completed during the coming year.”
Few details of the platform are available as the agreement is in an embryonic stage, but it is known that the platform will be provided by DOK-ING and IAI will incorporate the autonomous capabilities. Shabtai noted, “It will be a robotic platform for a new scenario as there is no solution today for that scenario. We want to build a new product that can deal with those kinds of scenarios.”
Firefighting UGVs, which were once largely for the civil market, are now emerging in military applications including CBRNE. The Austrian-produced LUF 60 was seen in Chinese local media footage in April with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force (PLARF), which was operating a LUF 60 in a CBRNE training exercise. The PLARF Emergency Disposal Brigade remotely operated the LUF 60 for firefighting duties, with the UGV deployed from a larger command vehicle.
The diesel-powered LUF 60 is a wireless remote-controlled mobile firefighting support machine that is intended to clear a path of up to 300 m that firefighters and rescue teams are able to follow safely.
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