Feeds

US Army trials robot 'leccy-n-bandwidth war-mules

Big Red One needs batteries and bits, not beans and bullets

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The US army remains determined to kit out all its ground troops with portable, wearable networking gear which will provide them with comms as well as an accurate idea of where everyone is. Unfortunately, when you have to generate your own wireless coverage as you go from the same kit, this means a lot of power - and this in turn means a crippling load of batteries.

smss_us_army_robot_car

Throbbing with power: plug your kit in and focus on the fight.

What's the solution? Well, it couldn't be more obvious. Naturally what's needed here is a small intelligent robot car, able to follow a dismounted team of soldiers about and carry a network node for them all to connect to - like a sort of trundling mobile mast - and, naturally, to carry and charge up extra batteries for the troops as well.

Balderdash, you say? Fantasy? Think again.

US aerospace behemoth Lockheed is not only working on such a batteries'n'broadband mule vehicle, it has completed it. The machine is dubbed Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) and it is to undergo trials with the US 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas, next month.

The Big Red One (as the 1st are known) will also be equipped with "Nett Warrior" wearable comms and network gear for the exercises - hence the addition of the SMSS in battery'n'backhaul mode. A single platoon of 30-40 troops with Nett Warrior can expect to run flat no less than 140 batteries weighing 155 pounds every day. Forget bullets and beans, it's batteries the modern soldier needs.

That's where Lockheed thinks the SMSS will shine. It will be equipped with not only a Mobile Network Integration Kit "to improve communications from the network to the platoon", but also with chargers capable of topping up fully 146 batteries in just 10 hours, easily keeping pace with a couple of platoons' usage. It can also carry other stuff as required.

"Soldiers deserve the best possible situational awareness, communications, optics, sensors and protection, and the SMSS will help power it all and relieve their burden," says Lockheed bigcheese Jim Gribschaw. "SMSS represents much more than a portable charging station; it can carry more than half a ton of the Warfighters' supplies and can autonomously follow the squad, allowing the soldier to put down the remote control and focus on the fight."

Strange days, for anyone with old-school infantry experience. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH
Ultralight solar radio tracker in glorious 25,000km almost-space odyssey
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.