HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- BAE Systems has resurrected its Armed Robotic Combat Vehicle, originally developed for the now-canceled Future Combat Systems program, as the company aims to meet a demand arising from the recently published Army strategy on robotics and autonomous systems.
The Army debuted a draft form of its robotics and autonomous systems strategy last fall, but last week officially published the strategy.
This prompted BAE to bring its ARCV to the Association of the US Army’s Global Force Symposium this week to get a conversation started on what is in the realm of the possible for the near term and far term for a large, unmanned ground vehicle that can deliver firepower and perform reconnaissance missions, Jim Miller, a BAE Systems business development director, told Defense News Monday at the show.
BAE didn't just tow it into the show, it drove it right onto the showroom floor.
The ARCV was developed in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University, which helped to integrate much of the autonomous capability onto what looks like a shorter, wider version of a Bradley infantry fighting vehicle, Miller said.
The vehicle uses a Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensor to navigate autonomously and has a powerful 30mm cannon, a popular gun in the Army these days, as the service works to quickly integrate a 30mm gun on the Stryker armored vehicle for the 2
Cavalry Regiment in response to an urgent operational need in the European theater.
The idea for the vehicle, according to Miller, is to have a soldier controlling the ARCV from the back of a Bradley, potentially running the robotic vehicle alongside it as a wingman. Or the soldier can use it in a dismounted form, sending it ahead to perform reconnaissance or fire at a target, he described.
Miller said he hopes bringing the vehicle to AUSA will help the Army have a conversation with industry on when it might want to integrate robotic systems such as the one BAE is proposing, or what aspects of the autonomous technology used on the vehicle could be integrated into current and future systems.
"My sense is we are moving in the right direction," Miller said, and "the timing is right" to look at this capability again.
Perhaps the Army doesn’t go straight into fielding an armed unmanned ground vehicle, but the technology could be used to develop remote turrets, Miller said. A remote turret is now being integrated onto the Stryker, and industry is continuing to advance that technology.
The feedback BAE gets will determine how it invests in the technology going forward, according to Miller.
Other countries are testing the waters when it comes to armed unmanned ground vehicles.
Ukraine's SpetsTechnoExport unveiled its armed UGV at the Abu Dhabi International Defence Exhibition (IDEX) last month, equipped with an anti-tank missile system called Barrier.
The "nearly invisible" vehicle with Barrier and a 12.7 mm caliber machine gun is designed to go up against heavy and light armored targets from a distance of 100 to 5,000 meters, according to a company statement. SpetsTechnoExport is part of Ukraine’s defense company Ukroboronprom.