Lockheed Martin autonomous vehicle picked for Afghanistan deployment

  • 01-Aug-2011 08:39 EDT
LOCKHEED MARTIN SMSS.jpg

Four SMSS vehicles and a field service representative will support light infantry in theater; a fifth vehicle and an engineering team will remain in the U.S. for analysis and additional support. (PR Newswire)

The U.S. Army Rapid Equipping Force, through the Robotics Technology Consortium, selected the Lockheed Martin Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) to deploy to Afghanistan as part of the three-month Military Utility Assessment. Winner of the Project Workhorse Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) competition sponsored by the Army, the SMSS is the largest autonomous vehicle ever to be deployed with infantry, at 11 ft (3.4 m) long and able to carry more than half-a-ton of a squad’s equipment on rugged terrain. Four vehicles and a field service representative will support light infantry in theater as the service evaluates how autonomous vehicles can support or ease the equipment burden for deployed troops. A fifth vehicle and an engineering team will remain in the U.S. for analysis and additional support. The SMSS Block I variant, which will be deployed, has a range of 125 mi (200 km) and features three control options: supervised autonomy, tele-operation, or manually driven. The SMSS sensor suite allows it to lock on and follow any person by recognizing their digital 3-D profile (captured by the onboard sensors), and it can also navigate terrain on its own following a trail of GPS waypoints. The Army plans to begin the Afghanistan assessment late this year, after a period of evaluations and training.

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