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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
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.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.