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Rheinmetall Australia started the Autonomous Combat Warrior (ACW) Program to develop advanced sovereign robotics and automated vehicle technologies. The program will focus on the automation of driving capabilities at this stage. It is also Rheinmetall’s first Australian research and technology program. Within this program Rheinmetall’s Australian, German and Canadian development teams will work alongside research teams from Defence Science and Technology (DST) group, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).

Photos: Gerhard Heiming

For the background, Rheinmetall Canada has developed Mission Master vehicles (shown here) that incorporate an eight-wheel drive, skid-steer, electric, unmanned platform operated in either robotic, semi or full autonomous driving modes. These vehicles can be fitted with various payload modules including cargo, protection, medical and surveillance variants.

Rheinmetall Landsysteme Germany has over twenty years of experience in the automation of vehicles. Its system safety and system architecture competencies derive from more than ten research projects, and relevant technologies such as drive-by-wire have been developed to a uniquely high level of maturity. Two Wiesel 2 digital vehicles are being equipped with drive-by-wire architecture and the Rheinmetall Canada autonomous driving A-Kit package. These vehicles, when upgraded with Australian advanced autonomous applied research under the ACW Program, will be used to demonstrate the vehicle-agnostic and integrated payload capabilities of Rheinmetall’s Advanced A-Kit.

The Autonomous driving vehicle capability, or “A-Kit”, provides the base software architecture for all future stages of the ACW research program and provides the autonomous capabilities including robotic vehicle control (robotic control or semi-autonomous); “follow me” control (semi-autonomous); simultaneous localisation and mapping); autonomous waypoint navigation (semi or full autonomous); and GPS allowed/denied navigation (semi or full autonomous). It is already integrated into the Mission Master

Dorothee Frank