Army Engineers Field-Test Robotic Combat Vehicle Communications

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Source: U.S Army,
Source: U.S Army,

May 25, 2021 | Originally published by U.S. Army on May 18, 2021

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. (May 18, 2021) – Army engineers evaluated methods to improve the radio performance of Robotic Combat Vehicles (RCVs) during a field-based experiment.

The experiment focused on protected communications for teleoperating robotic combat vehicles under the Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross-Functional Team’s (NGCV CFT) Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) effort, which combines Soldiers, manned and unmanned air and ground vehicles, robotics, and sensors to increase situational understanding, lethality, and resiliency.

Radios will play a key component in the Optionally-Manned Fighting Vehicle’s ability to remotely control and maneuver RCVs in urban environments and varied terrain, noted Archie Kujawski, a network architect with the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center – a component of Army Futures Command’s Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM).

“In previous years, we did a campaign of learning to evolve modeling and simulation and lab-based risk reduction events, but the rubber hits the road when you can come out to a field environment and validate modeling and simulation as well as lab results,” Kujawski said.

C5ISR Center engineers mounted radios onto multiple on-the-move vehicles to assess robustness and capacity in urban, open, and wooded terrain and resiliency during simulated electronic warfare attacks. Additionally, they explored system enhancements that increased signal strength and electronic protection.

“We also assessed the radio systems using a vendor-sourced antenna, which demonstrated the value of employing directional antennas to amplify our signals in the direction of friendly forces and to block enemy jammers’ effects, ensuring continuous operations across the objective,” said Dr. Michael Brownfield, C5ISR Center’s Future Capabilities Chief.

Brownfield noted the Army’s network currently uses multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) radios as a mid-tier transport to enable command post dispersion and to share common-operation-picture data with mobile maneuver forces. C5ISR Center engineers were able to simulate this setup by placing the technologies in a “highly dynamic, mobile environment.

“The data we’re collecting will enable us to better understand how the stressed, contested, and congested network will meet a multitude of emerging Army expeditionary mission requirements,” said Brownfield, who noted the findings will support network design for Capability Sets 23 and 25.

The effort is a continuation in a series of experiments conducted by the NGCV CFT and DEVCOM’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC) to assess the effectiveness of RCV platforms at the platoon level and higher. The network-focused experiment will help to refine system requirements, reduce risk to performance, and identify spectrum demands leading up to the MUM-T Phase II Soldier Operational Experiment (SOE II), at Fort Hood, Texas, in fiscal year 2022.

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