SMSS successfully operated via satellite control
Lockheed Martin has successfully demonstrated the ability for the Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) to be operated via satellite at a distance of more than 200 miles. The vehicle conducted several battlefield surveillance operations while being controlled beyond line-of-sight via satellite from the US Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center.
According to Lockheed Martin, the demonstration proved that the combination of autonomy, vehicle mobility, surveillance sensors and satellite communications can provide a means of battlefield situational awareness while keeping soldiers out of harm's way. During the demonstration, SMSS was equipped with a Gyrocam 9M Tactical Surveillance Sensor and a General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies SATCOM-On-the-Move system.
SMSS incorporated an adjustable-height mast with the Gyrocam 9M, acquiring on-the-move, high-resolution electro-optical and thermal video. In testing, the SMSS movement and sensor functions were controlled from the remote station via tele-operation, demonstrating control of the vehicle through the satellite. In another simulated mission, the operator provided a pre-planned route and SMSS autonomy allowed navigation with minimal operator intervention, while other autonomous functions, such as follow-me, go-to-point and retro-traverse, were also demonstrated.
The SMSS leverages robotic technologies for unmanned transport and logistical support for light, early entry and special operations forces. It is being developed to solve capability gaps by lightening the soldier’s load and serving as a power management resource.
Joe Zinecker, director of combat manoeuvre systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said: ‘These demonstrations allow the army development communities to better understand capabilities available to them with SMSS right now. We are showing our customers innovative ways to employ SMSS vehicles in missions while demonstrating that we are ready to move from technology development to fielding these valuable and mature new capabilities.
‘The concept of an affordable common mobility platform coupled with specialised mission equipment packages is the right answer for UGVs to reduce development, production and sustainment costs, while providing maximum flexibility for commanders. SMSS continues to demonstrate its readiness to move into the next phase of the army's unmanned ground vehicle roadmap’.
The SMSS has conducted previous demonstrations for the US Army. These include the vehicle being outfitted with different mission equipment packages to conduct logistics, counter-IED, mobility, dismounted-soldier support, and reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition; and being tested by soldiers in Afghanistan in 2012 as transport and logistics vehicles to lighten the load for soldiers in combat operations.
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