Smaller robotic systems showcased by DGA included three Mini-robots called MiniROC (Mini Robot de Choc), a family of modular, semi-autonomous platforms designed for operations in urban environments. Another system, called TAROT, is being used to experiment with autonomous navigation and behavioral aspects of the interaction between humans and robots. Following three years of developments, the MiniROC family is scheduled for operational evaluation by October 2006.
According to French MOD plans unmanned systems will be developed incrementally throughout the next 20 years as part of the transformational Scorpion program, which aims at developing systems and tactics that will be effective in the future close-range “contact battles”. By the year 2012 MiniROC is expected to be integrated as part of the futuristic bulle opיrationnelle aיroterrestre (BOA) technology demonstration program, as part of the comprehensive manned-unmanned systems ensemble. On a parallel path, DGA is DGA is considering two new sensors for the FELIN infantry systems program – the “Spybowl” imaging sphere designed by Exavision and the quad-rotor CPX4 hovering surveillance system, from Novedem.
Robosoft Advanced Robotics Solutions displayed several UGV systems, including the heavy RobuCAR TT, 4×4 platform, capable of carrying a 350 kg payload and a small networked robot designed for conceptual testing of swarm missions. Another robot being tested is the RobuROC, which is specifically designed to negotiate difficult terrain. In Germany, Rheinmetall Defense is engaged in a similar research project employing the small Foxbot and SMOVER vehicle robotization kit, which can effectively convert any manned vehicle to a robot. Higher levels of autonomy to be utilized for combat reconnaissance and support missions are currently on the drawing board. Such future applications are planned for every land forces modernization program, including FCS, FRES, Scorpion and BOA.
Among the more mature programs is the type is the combat proven PackBot, developed and produced by iRobot. The company is currently developing the Small UGV (SUGV) to become the baseline UGV for the US Army Future Combat System’s (FCS) robotics. iROBOT also released details about the larger Warrior (also known as NEOMover), 125 kg platform, carrying a payload of 50kg (100 pounds) at a speed of up to 12 miles per hour. The new robot will follow the design principles of the smaller PackBot (including the characteristic tracks and flippers design). Warrior/NEOmover will be more durable and robust, and will be capable of climbing steps and obstacles, survive a drop from a one storey high rooftop and enduring harsh environmental conditions. Among the combat roles proposed for the Warrior are explosive ordnance disposal, battlefield casualty extraction and firefighting.