Parachute and Airborne Delivery expert IrvinGQ has adapted its ATAX platform to support the autonomous aerial deployment of unmanned ground vehicles, enabling users to deploy UGVs by parachute to remote locations, behind enemy lines without risking human lives to support those assets. This means that autonomous UGVs or other robotic vehicles remotely controlled UGVs can be operated remotely, start-up, drive off the rig, and conduct their missions minutes after landing. IrvineGQ and Milrem expect to have fully working prototypes in the Summer of 2021.
A standard ATAX module measures 8 ft long and 108 in wide, and up to four modules can be connected to form a 32 ft platform, designed to accommodate all up masses ranging from 1,143 kg (2,520 lb) to 19,051 kg (42,000 lb) for land airdrops. Configured for airdrop with DRAGONFLY Joint Precision Aerial Delivery System (JPADS) parachute system adding guidance, range, and drop altitude that would keep the aircraft further away from the drop zone. This configuration can support a maximum mass of 10,000lb the system can carry two UGVs.
A C130 could airdrop two double ATAX systems configured with two THeMIS on each platform. The system also fits the A400M that could despatch two triple ATAX platforms, using traditional G11s parachutes instead of JPADS. ATAX also fits the KC390. Other aerial deployment possibilities of Milrem Robotics’ UGVs include helicopter underslung or in the cargo area of a helicopter, for example, the Chinook CH-47.
The US Army has been testing the ATAX platform for some time through a Foreign Comparative Test (FCT). A third drop test was conducted successfully in November 2020 and another test is planned for early 2021. The system is being evaluated as a candidate for the Rapid Rigging Derigging Airdrop System (RRDAS), a program of record expected to demonstrate the delivery of unmanned ground vehicles by FY 22.
The collaboration between IrvineGQ and MILREM was announced in March 2020. Moving to the next step, the system will now support two armed Tracked Hybrid Modular Infantry System (THeMIS) robots, carrying the Protector weapon stations (RWS) from Kongsberg Defense. The RWS mounts an automatic weapon (7.62/12.7mm) and a Javelin guided missile. Carrying two of the weaponized robot, ATAX enables military and special forces to deploy an autonomous strike force parachute, using the ATAX airdrop system. The system can load and deliver two weaponized UGVs or two Multscope Rescue UGVs utilized in military or firefighting missions.
ATAX is a patented, Modular, Rapid-Rig/De-Rig, Aerial Delivery System that employs soft landing airbags instead of traditional energy-dissipating materials (EDM). The reusable delivery rig and airbag significantly reduce the shock forces imparted into the cargo load and facilitate a true drive-on drive-off capability. IrvinGQ is developing an airdrop restraint system with an auto release mechanism that enables the UGVs to self-deriging and drive-off the ATAX platform unaided.