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US Army considers load-carrying robots
The US Army is considering options for a new unmanned ground vehicle that could take on the load currently carried by soldiers, called the Squad Manoeuvre Equipment Transport (SMET) system, it announced on 2 March.
The army is working with industry partners to test early prototypes at Fort Bliss, Texas, while requirements and capabilities are refined.
The overall goal is to help reduce the heavy loads currently carried by soliders on operations. Col Kurt Thompson, chief of the army's soldier requirements division, and doctrine command capability manager – soldier, said that the SMET should be capable of hauling soldier gear for a typical 72-hour patrol. It should also have enough power to charge itself and the devices that soldiers carry. The SMET should be autonomous or semi-autonomous, which means that it must be smart enough to follow the soldiers with minimum control.
The plan is for the system to fit in the back of a helicopter or slung load below, and potentially have an array of sensors and weaponry for self-defence, with a soldier in the loop. Operational energy will also play a key role in development, with new battery technology, generation and alternative fuels to be explored.
Other potential uses of SMET could include patrol, perimeter security and supplies transport within forward operating bases.
The army is currently in increment 1 stage development, with the army hoping to build a prototype in the next few years.
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