At DSEi 2019 Supacat is unveiling its Technology Demonstrator for hybrid and optionally manned operations, developed to keep pace with battlefield logistical requirements on extreme terrain and unpredictable routes, and a new capability for light forces, the ‘High Mobility Integrated Fires Capability’.
The Technology Demonstrator has been developed by UK-headquartered Supacat in collaboration with the University of Exeter as part of an Innovate UK-supported Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP).
“Electric Hybrid propulsion and autonomous technologies are two important innovations that will enhance the capabilities of users of our in service high mobility platforms," Steve Austen, Engineering Director of Supacat parent, SC Group, said. "We have focussed our efforts on designing open system architectures, allowing extensive use of commercial off the shelf (COTS) components, which we see as key to a successful and sustainable military solution in a rapidly evolving technology sector."
“Our approach uses a common electric drivetrain, each of which can be customised through different powering options depending on mission, range, payload and operating environment. For example, a customer may have a mission profile with a mixture of on road and off road operations, with a need for silent operation for a percentage of time – the proportion of these components will determine whether series or parallel hybrid options are employed or if full electric propulsion is needed.
"As battery or fuel cell technology advances and diesel engine development responds to legislation, these options will inevitably change and we must provide vehicle architectures that can accommodate such evolution," Austen said.
“We are exploring, developing and incorporating autonomous technologies in a way that will permit the level of collaboration and control from human to vehicle or from vehicle to vehicle to be altered depending on the complexity of the work being undertaken. Allowing vehicles to be `optionally manned` will remove users from the `dull, dirty or dangerous` tasks wherever possible and create a real operational advantage for the end user."
The ‘optionally manned’ demonstrator utilises a terrain detection and response system, an object categorisation and response system for obstacle clearance or avoidance during technical off road driving, and a path planning and motion behaviour system using simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM) for the navigation of lead and follow on vehicles.
“Few autonomous vehicle projects focus on highly technical off road terrain. The challenge here is to manage and reduce the volume of data needed about the unpredictable non-linear environment around the vehicle to assure effective, safe and predictable performance without having to import and export masses of data from it," Austen said.
Separately, the company has also partnered with Rheinmetall and SCISYS to showcase a new capability for light forces, the ‘High Mobility Integrated Fires Capability’, at DSEi.
The partnership demonstrates Supacat’s 6×6 HMT platform mounted with Rheinmetall’s MWS81 mortar system in its first integration on a light vehicle. The target acquisition and integrated fire support platform is networked with SCISYS GVA compliant platform and mission software.
Supacat’s HMT platforms allow users to deliver indirect fire for light role forces while the MWS81 mortar capability allows for rapid ‘into action time’. The Vingmate sight provides target acquisition and location, with targets being shared over the battlespace data network enabling Support Weapon effects to be directed precisely.
The SCISYS developed GVA compliant platform and mission software shares data and video around the platform to each crew member’s display and into the battlespace networks, enhancing shared situational awareness and speed of decision making. The displays are supplied by Leonardo.
“This enhanced capability is a first for light forces and offers a solution to a number of potential requirements among the green army and Special Forces," Phil Applegarth, Head of Supacat, said.