Katherine Ziesing | Canberra
The Army’s third Innovation Day at ADFA in Canberra showcased offerings from 25 companies across the theme of manned/unmanned teaming (MUM-T). With a range of technologies including unmanned vehicles, autonomous robot targeting, and immersive and holographic training technologies, the day had much to offer not just to Army but also other agencies in attendance, namely Border Force, Emergency Management Australia, sister services and the AFP.
Head of Army Modernisation and Strategic Planning Major General Gus McLachlan was pleased to see the range of technologies on offer, commenting that Army was looking for both mature and immature systems to partner with.
"We will get to the stage where every soldier has a heads up display or an augmented set of goggles."
“We will get to the stage where every soldier has a heads up display or an augmented set of goggles and we need to start looking at these technologies now as our future generation of soldiers will expect them,” he said.
Ocular demonstrated their sensor technology aboard a UGV at the Army Innovation Day 2016. Credit: ADM (Katherine Ziesing)
Unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) offerings from Roboteam, Praesidium, and Tomcar all looked at different roles for UGVs such as MEDEVAC, logistics and general transportation. Interestingly, all three are electric vehicles with your correspondent taking a ride in the Tomcar vehicle that was almost eerily silent. Add the fact the Tomcar variant is also the only waterproof electric car in the world and is soon to be Australia’s only vehicle manufacturer, it certainly fulfils the innovation brief from Army.
Another interesting technology came from Ocular Robotics who had their Immersive Telepresence System on show. A helmet-mounted system allows the wearer to view images from cameras mounted on robots, but with minimal nausea. The time delay between what the camera records and what comes up on goggles is usually a washout point for pilots who can’t handle the motion sickness element, Ocular Robotics engineer Michael Newman said to ADM.
Attendees were able to try on the headset and look through the sensor feed of a nearby UGV doing circuits. Wearers were then able to move the camera as they needed, independent of the movement of the UGV itself.
ADM will be covering the Army Innovation Day and its technologies in more detail in coming editions.