Unmanned ground vehicle

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Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV), in the most literal definition, are powered vehicles that travel over the ground surface, which do not carry humans, can be either remote-controlled by human operators or operate under its own computer control, and can carry lethal or nonlethal payloads (i.e., weapons and sensors). Unattended ground sensors are not mobile once in position, but they may be deployed by UGVs, or self-deployed as a UGV/UGS hybrid. Of course, there are very basic versions, such as remote-controlled toy cars.

From a human factors standpoint, it is a telepresence application. There is an assumption there will be at least one-way, if not two-way, communications between people and the UGV. Some early UGVs were seen as police robots for assisting in hostage situations and bomb situations.

Future Combat Systems and successors

While the overall Future Combat Systems of the U.S. Army has been cancelled, several of its UGV components are moving forward. The XM1217 Transport MULE Vehicle (MULE-T), a multifunctional utility-logistics and equipment (MULE) vehicle is the core UGV: a 2.5-ton unmanned ground vehicle that supports dismounted operations and includes a chassis, autonomous navigation system, operator control unit, and three mission-equipment packages.

In particular, the combat engineer function of Stryker Brigade Combat Team's considers UGVs to be an important tool. The M1132 engineer squad vehicle is specifically equipped to control them.

Variants of the MULE-T include:

  • XM1216 Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV): a small, lightweight, man-portable UGV that can conduct military operations in urban terrain tunnels, sewers, and caves.
  • XM1218 Countermine MULE Vehicle (MULE-CM)
  • XM1219 Armed Robotic Vehicle-Assault-Light (ARV-A-L), which has been defunded for budgetary reasons.