AUVSI: Lockheed Martin sees big future for SMSS
Following the recent announcement that the Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) had been selected as sole winner of the Project Workhorse UGV competition, Lockheed Martin is preparing to send the system to Afghanistan for operational trials.
Speaking at Unmanned Systems North America, Myron Mills, SMSS project manager, said that the company was on track to deploy the system in to theatre in the October-November time frame. Training for the trial is currently under way at one of Lockheed Martin's facilities.
The project is being managed through the Robotics Technology Consortium on behalf of the US Army Rapid Equipping Force and will see four of the company's Block 1 SMSS deployed for the trial that is being used to assess the potential of larger UGVs on the battlefield. Mills said that SMSS would be the largest system yet deployed by the US Army.
The Block 1 SMSS platform has a number of differences over the original prototype. The autonomy capability on the system is more reliable and robust and each wheel now has lockout hubs. It also features fewer sensors than earlier designs, an alteration made possible through the combination of technologies, such as FLIR and camera in a single module, and the temporary elimination of autonomous vehicle convoy requirements. The company has also made the UGV quieter and adapted the exhaust system.
Looking beyond the Afghanistan deployment Mills said that the company was looking at other ways to leverage the SMSS. The company has demonstrated the UGV as a 'mobile power station' and has also looked at integrating a Gyrocam masted sensor suite. The latter prototype will be used in a US Army experimentation later in the year.
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