The U.S. Army is surveying industry to find companies able to design and build an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) about the size of a compact car that can carry as much as 1,200 pounds of overhead cover, sandbags, small arms ammunition, food, water, heavy weapons, medical supplies, and other supplies to support small-unit infantry operations.
The Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM) at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., issued a source-sought notice (W91CRB-10-R-0098) to find companies able to design a ground-traveling unmanned vehicle to lighten the soldier's load. Although this notice is not a formal solicitation, Army officials say it may lead to a UGV procurement program.
The squad-sized UGV should have remote control, teleoperation, supervised autonomy, and follower, and will serve as a utility and cargo transport for infantry small unit operations. If necessary, the UGV also should have ability to be manually driven by human operators for maintenance or in emergencies. The autonomous modes of operation should enable the unmanned vehicle to follow a soldier with no active RF beacons or tags required.
The UGV should have light detection and range (LIDAR) sensors for obstacle detection and avoidance, as well as forward- and aft-looking infrared and day cameras to enable teleoperation day and night. The vehicle requires a modular, lightweight, wearable operator control unit (OCU) consisting of a controller/computer, a data radio, a rechargeable battery, and cables.
The components should be housed in modular lightweight load-carrying equipment (MOLLE) pouches that can be attached to the soldiers load bearing equipment (LBE) vest in configurations to suit the operators needs. A spare OCU will be stored in the vehicle, and its battery kept charged when the system is in use. The OCU can be recharged on the vehicle or with a separate stand alone charger.
The UGV requires a standard NATO power port and a high-output alternator that can provide as much as 4 kilowatts of off-board power for other military equipment and can be used to jump-start other military vehicles. The unmanned land vehicle should be able to move as quickly as 4 miles per hour to keep up with dismounted soldiers for as long as 10 hours per day without burning up the transmission or other mechanical components.