Lockheed drives robotic vehicle for Army via satellite link

Lockheed Martin has completed a successful demonstration for the Army designed to show that its robotic squad support vehicle can be controlled via satellite from hundreds of miles away.

In a recent demonstration at Camp Grayling, Mich., the company's Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) autonomous vehicle conducted several battlefield surveillance operations using beyond line-of-sight communciations via satellite under the control of personnel at the Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center in Warren, Mich., the company said Feb. 19.

The purpose of the demonstration was to show Army development communities the various capabilities of the SMSS, and prove to them that the Bethesda, Md.-based company is ready to advance the SMSS from technology development to fielding, the company said.

To carry out its surveillance missions, the SMSS was equipped with a Gyrocam 9M Tactical Surveillance Sensor and thermal video and General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies SATCOM-On-the-Move system. The 9M Tactical Surveillance Sensor furnished on-the-move, high-resolution electro-optical video.

In testing, the SMSS movement and sensor functions were controlled from the remote station via tele-operation, the company said. In another simulated mission, the operator provided a pre-planned route and SMSS autonomy allowed navigation with minimal operator intervention. The company also demonstrated other autonomous functions of which the SMSS is capable, such as follow-me, go-to-point and retro-traverse.

Lockheed Martin previously conducted several demonstrations of the SMSS for the Army in 2012, outfitting the vehicle with different mission equipment packages to conduct logistics, counter-improvised explosive device, 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.


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