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Details emerge on mesh hybrid networking system for EU's UGV programme

Three THeMIS UGVs pictured during iMUGS testing in Belgium in June 2022. (Janes/Alexander Stronell)

Details on the mesh communications system in development as part of the Integrated Modular Unmanned Ground System (iMUGS) programme, the European Defence Fund's (EDF) project for a common unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), have been revealed to Janes.

Speaking to Janes, an industry source familiar with the iMUGS communications effort provided details on the objectives and testing of the hybrid networking system.

The iMUGS sub-project for a mesh communications system is being undertaken by Finnish telecommunications company Bittium, part of the consortium of companies led by Estonia's Milrem Robotics.

β€œWe are developing communications, which is based on mesh technology and which allows all the vehicles, the troops … [to be] part of one big network, and all the traffic is based on IP [internet protocol traffic],” the source told Janes. β€œThere's no predefined structure, so you can add vehicles or nodes, and you can remove [them],” he added.

Wireless mesh networks are made up of communications nodes (interlinked receivers and transmitters) that transmit information to each other. UGVs can be interlinked with multiple other nodes – for example, manned vehicles and command posts – to facilitate communication, command-and-control, and situational awareness. In a combat scenario, a unit will utilise a tactical network covering several square kilometres.

Mesh communication nodes are not necessarily integrated only with vehicles, but also can, in principle, be carried by any suitable platform, including a dismounted soldier. In addition, any unit can connect to the mesh to take control of connected UGVs.

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