UV - Unmanned Vehicles

DSEI 2019: L3Harris unveils T4 robot

13th September 2019 - 12:00 GMT | by Sonny Butterworth in London

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L3Harris Technologies unveiled the first prototype of its T4 robotic system at DSEI 2019, a medium-sized UGV designed for use in urban environments where space constraints may preclude the use of a heavier system.

During a demonstration of the new robot attended by Shephard, Paul Bosscher, chief engineer, Robotic Systems at L3Harris demonstrated how the system can provide ‘big robot capabilities in a medium-sized robot’, with its robotic arm allowing it to be used for tasks such as EOD or hazardous materials cleanup.

Weighing approximately 97kg, the T4 leverages technology from the heavier T7 to increase parts commonality and ensure that the system operates reliably. Consequently, the T4 shares the same type of electric motors as the T7 (albeit scaled down) and utilises the same controller.

Incorporating haptic force-feedback from the robot’s arm, this controller assists the operator in performing delicate manoeuvres with the arm's gripper. The arm also supports a wide range of movement and has a relatively high reach, giving increased dexterity and enabling the system to perform more intricate operations. There are two stabilisers fitted to the front of the robot's chassis that enable it to lift heavier loads without toppling over.

As an alternative to the gripper, the arm can be fitted with a disruptor for neutralising IEDs in confined spaces. If necessary, the T4’s robotic arm can also be easily detached from the robot’s chassis and stowed on top, or replaced with a different type of sensor or tool. Several standard connecting points will allow the T4 to accommodate new types of sensors developed in the future.

Despite its smaller size, the T4 is built to the same rugged, military standards as the larger T7. This includes electromagnetic shielding, which enables it to be deployed when jamming systems are operational.

While the T4 is the latest offering from L3Harris, the company is continuing to see success in the EOD domain with its larger 322 kg T7 robot.

In August 2017, 56 of these robots were originally ordered under a £55.3 million ($70.6 million) contract by the UK MoD to fulfil its Project Starter requirement for a UGV that could assist EOD teams. Following the deliveries of the first robots in September 2018, a £36 million (US$46 million) option was exercised in July 2019, which increased the order to a total of 122 robots.

Whereas the first batch of 56 robots was earmarked for overseas operations with the British Army, the second batch includes robots destined for domestic use. L3Harris commenced training for the British Army’s T7 trainers in early 2019 and the system is expected to reach IOC by the end of September 2019.

Shephard understands that approximately 20 T7s have been delivered to the MoD, with previous reports indicating that the company will be able to deliver at least five units per month, with capacity to double this on the back of further orders.

The T7 has also been demonstrated to and trialled by other militaries, including the US Army, which is investigating the system for its Common Robotic System – Heavy (CRS-H) programme.

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