Rheinmetall launches automated vehicle research in Australia

Photo: Rheinmetall

Rheinmetall has launched an Australian research and technology program to develop sovereign automated military vehicle capability.

The aim is to develop advanced sovereign robotics and automated vehicle technologies, which will create a local automated military vehicle capability, together with the Defence Science and Technology (DST) group, the CSIRO, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).

As part of the Autonomous Combat Warrior (ACW) program, Rheinmetall’s Australian development teams will work at the company’s Melbourne facility and its Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) in Queensland, which is due for completion in late 2020.

Rheinmetall Defence Australia Managing Director Gary Stewart said the program would lead the Australian development of next generation automated combat vehicle technologies for integration into the family of Rheinmetall vehicle platforms.

“ACW’s goal is to fundamentally change the way in which land vehicles support military operations by transforming a vehicle from tool to teammate to provide currently unachievable levels of soldier protection, support and tactical advantage,” Stewart said.

“This will see the Australian development of the next generation of land vehicle systems warfighting capability, with an emphasis on developing trusted automated systems which provide human-machine teaming and optional crewed control.”

Rheinmetall has a 5-year strategic R&D alliance agreement to work collaboratively with the DST Group to advance automated vehicle systems. The agreement builds on Rheinmetall’s longstanding relationship with DST in the area of simulation and augmented reality.

The partnership also includes R&D around novel concepts and technologies that support the new Boxer 8×8 Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle capability Rheinmetall is delivering to the Australian Defence Force under the $5.2 billion Land 400 Phase 2 program.

The Autonomous driving vehicle capability, or “A-kit”, currently integrated into the Mission Master vehicles provides the base software architecture for all future stages of the ACW research program and provides the autonomous capabilities including robotic vehicle control.

Rheinmetall’s Canadian, as well as German, businesses will contribute to the research.