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[infowar.de] DARPA entwickelt unbemannten Kampf-/Nachschub-/Aufklärungsroboter
Wired News, http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,54611,00.html
A Battlefield Bot That Won't Die
By Elliot Borin
2:00 a.m. Aug. 21, 2002 PDT
It's called, appropriately enough, the Spinner, a six-wheeled turtle
of an unmanned ground combat vehicle that can -- unlike any other of its
species -- be turned on its back and still keep on truckin' over
virtually any terrain navigable by tanks 10 times heavier and
considerably slower and less mobile.
"We expect it to become the resupply and reconnaissance workhorse of
the UGCV fleet," says John Bares, director of Carnegie Mellon
University's National Robotics Engineering Consortium (NREC), which is
coordinating the building and testing of the Spinner under a $5.5
million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
"At the bottom of its range it can work like a mule at benign things
like resupply and unarmed reconnaissance. Working up the range (of its
capabilities), it can offer direct assistance to soldiers in the
battlefield and perform armed recon missions."
The Spinner is a melting pot of fresh and evolutionary technology.
Most prominent is a unique traction-and-suspension system designed by
Timoney Technology, an Irish company specializing in mobility platforms.
Powered by high-torque, water-cooled electric motors at each
independently suspended wheel, the six 1.2-meter-diameter run-flat tires
can motor the 15-passenger-van-size UGCV over obstructions previously
surmountable only by tanks and other massive tractor-treaded vehicles.
Should the vehicle be upended by an obstacle or concussion, an
electronic rollover sensor will trigger a computerized hydraulic system
to reposition the wheels, raise the upside-down vehicle to its normal
ride height and continue its mission. At the same time the wheels are
being relocated, the unit's interior bay will rotate to correctly orient
the cargo -- a crucial factor if the payload happens to consist of
smaller vehicles or other wheeled devices that need to be rolled out to
Think of an upside-down turtle able to invert its legs to resume
walking with its shell still upturned and to rotate its head 180 degrees
so it can see the terrain it's plodding over. To carry the turtle
analogy a bit further, the composite-hulled Spinner will be encased in a
multipart Boeing-built carapace consisting of folding buffers designed
to protect it from impacts at speeds up to 20 kph (12.5 mph).
The Spinner will also be one of the first UGCVs to use an
ultra-sophisticated hybrid propulsion system based on a diesel-fuel
turbine engine feeding electricity to a massive high-performance
lithium-ion power pack.
According to Bares, two major objectives were presented to engineers
at PEI Electronics, designers of the Spinner's battery pack and
power-management system: versatility and fuel efficiency.
The Spinner will be able to self-select from three operating modes --
silent (battery only), turbine-only or mixed. Fuel efficiency will be
enhanced through the use of such mechanisms as channeling braking energy
into electricity to charge the batteries.
Fuel economy is crucial in a variety of military applications, Bares
notes. It takes an estimated seven gallons of fuel to deliver one gallon
to the front lines. Think of the Gulf War and all the tankers stretched
across the desert. The Spinner's fuel economy has tremendous downstream
If research on the cognitive colonization of robots now underway at
the Carnegie Mellon Field Robotics Center is successful, multiple
Spinners may someday be used as an unmanned task force in which each
unit is programmed to specialize in a particular job -- such as scouting
a route, loading material or acting as an armed escort for unarmed
Currently working with a full-scale rolling test bed, engineers at
NREC expect to have a functional prototype of the Spinner ready for 12
months of field trials by year's end.
Though design of the computer brain that will control the Spinner's
brawn is still in the concept stage, engineers envision that the
operationally autonomous vehicle will be mission-programmed by land- or
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