Rheinmetall has added a 4×4 variant to the Autonomous Unmanned Ground Vehicle (A-UGV) range of the MISSION MASTER series to create a new XT class. Diesel propulsion and a payload of one tonne are, in addition to the 4×4 drive, the distinguishing features of the introduced 8×8 MISSION MASTER Silent Partner (SP), the company has announced.
In order to expand the range of applications for the successful
MISSION MASTER concept, Rheinmetall has selected a chassis for the new XT that, with a one-ton payload, can carry considerably more than the introduced SP. The vehicle’s footprint has grown to 2.57 m x 3.72 m, so that with a tare weight of 2.3 tonnes, amphibious capabilities are not restricted even when the one-tonne payload is fully utilised. With the diesel engine, the Mission Master XT fits into a different logistical environment. The traditional technology primarily ensures shorter supply times (downtime) and the use of imported operating materials. In return, it was accepted that the XT cannot creep silently.
The drive and braking forces are controlled individually for each wheel via a hydrostatic transmission, making turning around the vertical axis possible. At the interface with the ground, large-volume low-pressure special tyres are used, whose air pressure can be adjusted to a maximum of 0.3 bar during operation. The ground pressure of 0.1 bar allows the MISSION MASTER to drive even where no one can walk. The special tread of the tyres makes it possible to negotiate gradients of up to 70 per cent while the permissible side slope is 40 per cent. The tyres are also resistant to damage meaning holes with a diametre of 2.5 cm do not lead to failure with the stable carcass and the pressure compensation of the tyre pressure control system.
MISSION MASTER XT Features
To guide the vehicle, Rheinmetall relies on the Proven Agnostic, Trusted Highly Autonomous (PATH) Autonomous Kit (A-Kit), which was developed in the course of the MISSION MASTER SP. By default, the operator guides his vehicle via a tablet PC, with which the operator is always “in-the-loop” for all other functions of the Mission installations. Sensors provide information from the vehicle’s surroundings, which is evaluated using artificial intelligence, among other things, and displayed on maps for the operator. This includes path and obstacle recognition, target display, classification and tracking. Route and mission planning are supported. The operator can choose between follow-me mode, in which the vehicle follows a preceding person or vehicle at a fixed distance, and autonomous mode, in which the vehicle finds its own way to the destination via waypoints.
To reduce the operator’s workload and optimise driving behaviour, the tyre pressure control can automatically adjust the tyre pressure to the ground conditions, creating optimal traction all the time. The XT can also be steered “sat on” as the vehicle’s own controls have been retained. This allows a driver to sit up and control the vehicle directly in settings such as field camp or during maintenance.
With a maximum weight of 3.3 tonnes, the XT can be transported as an external (slung) load on helicopters such as CH-53 or CH-47 or as an internal load in transport aircraft such as C-130 or larger. It can be dropped by parachute while for land and sea transport, the dimensions allow the use of ISO containers.
MISSION MASTER XT Versions
The version of the MISSION MASTER XT presented is the cargo version, although Rheinmetall has a number of equipment kits in preparation. Numerous equipment kits for combat support can be seen, with machine guns/weapon stations, missile launchers or UAS launchers, as well as modules for reconnaissance and/or drone defence. The design of the individual modules is based on the needs of the customers. Other mobile devices such as smartphones and smartwatches can also be used to control the vehicle, though weapon deployment always requires constant control by the operator.
It took Rheinmetall around 14 months to turn the basic vehicle into a MISSION MASTER. With the (own and user) experience gained from the MISSION MASTER SP programme, the XP was brought up to development level TRL 7 in this period. After completion of the last in-house tests, the XT will be ready for series production in the next few weeks and will then go on tour to potential customers. The next development step is already on the agenda. If there is a demand from customers, a version with a hybrid drive could implement the essential functions of the SP and XT on one platform.