Issue 54 Uncrewed Sytems Technology Feb/Mar 2024 uWare uOne UUV l Radio and telemetry l Rheinmetall Canada medevacs l UUVs insight DelltaHawk engine l IMU focus l Skygauge in operation l CES 2024 report l Blueflite l Hypersonic flight

48 In operation | Rheinmetall Canada Mission Master medevac how an uncrewed mule for logistics and Medevac should look, or what it should be capable of doing. There was also no indication that the UGV industry and market would later bloom in a similar way to how the UAV world was at the time. By 2019, UGVs for autonomous lastmile resupply were in demand across the West (something Tremblay attributes particularly to Russia’s deployment of high-end, teleoperated, weaponised UGVs in Syria), which pushed Rheinmetall Canada to accelerate its development and optimisation of the Mission Master family. Since 2021, defence customers have advanced their interest to specific subsystems and capabilities, including the use of UGVs as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) vehicles, weapon platforms and intelligent, self-driving Medevac vehicles. To the testing grounds The Mission Master demonstrations, held in Estonia in June 2023, were part of the Unmanned Ground Vehicle Autonomy Trials event arranged by the Estonian Military Academy and the Estonian Defence Forces to test the limits of current autonomous technologies. The event was observed by military and civilian experts from numerous countries, with 11 companies (including Rheinmetall Canada) participating. Meanwhile, the operations in Australia were part of Exercise Talisman Sabre 2023, a series of all-domain training activities aimed primarily at enabling US Marine Corps (USMC) forces to test new system capabilities, while improving the combat readiness and interoperability between Australian and US forces (and those of other allied countries). Notably, the USMC was among the observers of the UGV trials in Estonia. “Transporting the UGVs about the demonstration zones in Australia was straightforward, as the authorities gave us permission to operate them on civilian roads, so when moving from one tactical area to another, we just set them to autonomously follow a manually driven car or something, and off they went down the road without issue,” Tremblay says. “That autonomous following capacity is something we’re ironing out in the Mission Masters so that the algorithm can one day be ported over to heavy logistics trucks. You could basically create a ‘virtual train’ of many self-driving trucks following in a line behind just one crewed truck at the front.” Diniz notes that the autonomous convoy mode was similarly used in Estonia, enabling Rheinmetall Canada to arrive at the test zones significantly faster than companies relying on remote teleoperation of their UGVs. The bulk of the activities in Australia and Estonia were focused on demonstrating and maturing the Mission Masters’ casualty evacuation applications. Casualty evacuation Preparations for these demonstrations were simple, as each Mission Master is programmed with self-diagnostic systems, such that any faults in mechanical, electrical, electronic or software systems are continually checked for. This effectively shortens the predeployment checklist down to operators merely eyeing the fuel level or battery state-of-charge to determine whether onboard energy is satisfactory for the mission range. “We have deliberately designed the UGVs such that any necessary interactions are extremely simple for end-users; we can’t hand a system to soldiers if they need a MSc to operate it,” Tremblay says. “But so long as they know how to operate smartphones or tablets, which all younger people today do, they can operate the Mission Masters. That is essentially what it’s like to operate the GCS, for which we use a custom, handheld computer from UXV Technologies. “We had a custom safety architecture in mind, across both hardware and software, to bring the control system in line with the very difficult NATO standards for firing kinetic weapons over wireless networks. “Some Mission Master customers wanted to be able to do that, so rather than give end-users two different GCSs and risk them taking the wrong one into the field, the standard-issue system needed to be NATO-compliant for wireless kinetic weapon triggering – and UXV Technologies was willing to engineer a GCS along those very unique lines.” Outback and forest A Medevac using a Mission Master will occur when a team of soldiers radios a base for a UGV to be sent out to collect a casualty from their position or when such a team already has a Mission Master on hand (typically functioning as a mule). “The USMC trialled both modes in Australia: one where the UGV February/March 2024 | Uncrewed Systems Technology Lidars and cameras (visible at the front of the UGV) for the A-kit are chosen for clients’ varying missions and budgets