ADF Uncrewed Land Vechicles

Published Dec-Jan 2024 | APDR

A military uncrewed land vehicle (ULV) operates while in contact with the ground and without an onboard human presence. ULVs can be used for many military operations where it may be inconvenient, dangerous, or impossible to have a human operator present. Generally, the vehicle will have a set of sensors to observe the environment, and will either autonomously make decisions about its behaviour (robotic control) or pass the information to a human operator at a different location who will control the vehicle via a radio link.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) already uses a number of ULVs, often called unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), including some under robotic control, and continues to investigate scenarios where their use will be a better option than using troops directly.

In 2023, the Government approved Land Project 135 establishing the Defence Autonomy System – Land (DAC-L). This will reside in the Robotic and Autonomous Systems Implementation and Coordination Office (RICO). The DAC-L will help to solve some of the technological challenges associated with land autonomy. It will also seek to understand the right level of autonomy necessary for which tasks as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach misses the nuance of operating in the land domain.

APDR approached Defence’s Director of RICO, Colonel Robin Smith, for his views on uncrewed land vehicles:

“The Defence Strategic Review highlighted the potentially transformative impact of autonomy and robotics systems. Defence is moving rapidly to both understand and develop such systems, and their counters, to gain asymmetric advantage.”

EOS Comment: Australian company EOS has been heavily involved internationally, as well as in Australia. They advised APDR that EOS has firmly established itself in the unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) market through strategic collaborations with prominent UGV platform manufacturers, including Praesidium, Milrem, IAI, Pratt and Miller, and the BIA5 Cyborg Dynamics Engineering partnership. They state that they have demonstrated their remote autonomous lethality expertise by integrating their advanced weapon systems onto UGVs from various countries, including Thailand and the Netherlands, as well as Australia.

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