LOCKHEED MARTIN’S SMSS™ UNMANNED AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE OPERATES VIA SATELLITE CONTROL
By Julian Nettlefold
12 Feb 13. Morri Leland of Lockhed Martin Missiles and Fire Control gave an update at IDEX to the Company’s Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) vehicle during IDEX.
“UGVs are the ‘emerging market’ in defence being at the same stage now as the early iterations of the UAV in the late nineties, they are becoming part of our lives. Using the technology Lockheed Martin gained from the FCS MULE UGV project, we are now world leaders in this technology.”
Lockheed Martin completed a successful demonstration at Camp Grayling, Mich., recently in which its SMSS™ was being controlled via satellite from more than 200 miles away.
The SMSS vehicle conducted several battlefield surveillance operations while being controlled beyond line-of-sight via satellite from the U.S. Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center in Warren, Mich.
“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.” said Leland
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.
Lockheed Martin conducted several demonstrations of the SMSS for the U.S. Army during 2012, outfitting the vehicle with different mission equipment packages to conduct logistics, counter-IED, mobility, dismounted-soldier support, and reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition. Four SMSS vehicles were successfully tested by soldiers in Afghanistan in 2012 as transport and logistics vehicles to lighten the load for soldiers in combat operations. Twelve SMSS systems were delivered to Afghanistan for trials in 2012 as part of Project Workhorse.
“These trials proved that the concept of an affordable common mobility platform coupled with specialized mission equipment packages is the right answer for UGVs to reduce development, production and sustainment costs, while providing maximum flexibility for commanders. The systems were originally deployed for 120 days but proved so successful that the Army asked for an extension to the trials. SMSS continues to demonstrate its readiness to move into the next phase of the Army’s unmanned ground vehicle roadmap. The British Army conducted trials of the vehicle in 2012. These trials have extended the uses for SMSS which from an original Load Carrying use has been extended to other uses such as border surveillance, weapons carrying, weapons mounting, protection of high-value assets, port and pipeline protection and route clearance. The official payload stated by Lockheed Martin is 1500lbs, we have had reports of one user putting 200lbs on the vehicle!” Leland said.
AutoMate Convoy Module
Lockheed Martin has also developed the the AutoMate Convoy Module. The AutoMate Convoy Module is a low-cost, simple and effective appliqué-