MARSHALL SDG – PIONEERING UNMANNED GROUND VEHICLE TECHNOLOGY
By Julian Nettlefold
In September Marshall Land Systems (MLS), invited the press to visit its Marshall SDG subsidiary’s new Capability and Technology Centre in Petersfield to see the range of Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) under development.
Marshall SDG is the consulting and niche skills arm of MLS. With specialist skills in Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP), Electro Magnetic Compatibility (EMC), Electro Magnetic Interference (EMI), Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) and Safety. Marshall SDG is ideally suited to assist MLS, other companies and Ministries of Defence solve many problems. In addition to the skills sets needed for these capabilities, Marshall SDG is also skilled in unmanned, robotic ground vehicles (UGVs), and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) where it is supplemented by MLS’s skills in ground stations and fleet and customer support.
It achieves this in a number of ways, including; response to UORs, consultancy and rapid prototyping. However, more in depth studies and long term support contracts allow considerable interaction with the user community to allow best practice and effective solutions to be combined to deliver the right solution for the user. Recent work on robotic vehicles and UAVs has resulted in long term contracts for MLS and its subsidiary companies. Marshall SDG frequently acts as technical adviser to the customer community, providing programme and technical skills to assist with supplier selection, and on-time and on-cost delivery of technically complex programmes.
“Marshall SDG has its roots in the acquisition of DSD Ltd in 2000, we now have exceptional Project Management capabilities. The Petersfield facility has immense capability in vehicle systems design having contributed to the suspension design for the Challenger 1 & 2 Main Battle Tanks. We are also accredited as an approved BOWMAN system installer which we undertake for our various vehicle and shelter systems. After all a shelter fit is similar to a vehicle fit requiring the same processes and standards, for EMC and EMI Requirements in particular. We have also developed a particular expertise in Rapid Prototyping for UOR Requirements for Iraq and Afghanistan. Marshall has developed a comprehensive capability to not only manufacture but manage complex vehicle and now UAV Programmes. In addition, we have a significant position as manufacturer and designer of the ground station for the MoD’s Fire Shadow Programme,” Tim Otter, Future Business Director for MLS said.
MoD Grand Challenge
In 2008, Lord Drayson announced the MoD Grand Challenge, a major competition to produce a vehicle capable of identifying threats encountered by UK troops on current urban operations. The winner, Team Stellar, was announced on August 19th. Team Stellar beat off six others who qualified for the final competition days to win the RJ Mitchell Trophy – named after the designer of the Spitfire which earned legendary status for its decisive role in the Battle of Britain.
Their entry, SATURN – an integrated system with one high flying and one mini UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), and a UGV (Unmanned Ground Vehicle) with a control station fusing data from visual, thermal and radar sensors – gave them the competitive edge.
The Stellar Team comprises Stellar Services Ltd, Blue Bear Systems, Cranfield University, SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems Ltd, TRW Conekt, and Marshall SDG.
Marshall SDG, provided the Ground Vehicle for Team Stellar, one of the key elements of the Saturn offering, which was required to enter hazardous areas, autonomously navigate its way around and identify likely hazards and threats to friendly forces. The competition was carried out in adverse weather conditions on Salisbury Plain, a factor which was instrumental in reducing the number of competitors that completed the challenge.
In designing and delivering the