ROBOTICS AND AUTONOMOUS SYSTEMS
AUSA NEWS: Rheinmetall Unveils New Autonomous, Amphibious Vehicle
WASHINGTON, D.C. — International company Rheinmetall has revealed its new Mission Master CXT platform, the latest addition to the company’s line of autonomous unmanned ground vehicles.
Unveiled at the Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting and exhibition, the Mission Master CXT is now the “middle brother” in Rheinmetall’s family of autonomous unmanned ground vehicles — which also includes the smaller Mission Master SP and the larger Mission Master XT platforms — said Louis Harnois, Rheinmetall Canada’s director of business development for international programs.
Rheinmetall has sold “about 10 units” of the Mission Master SP model to the Army, Harnois said in an interview at the AUSA conference Oct 10. The company also announced in April the SP platform had been chosen for Spiral 3 of the British Ministry of Defence’s Robotic Platoon Vehicles Programme.
The Mission Master CXT on display at the AUSA conference featured a fire support module equipped with Dillon Aero’s twin M134D minigun. However, the vehicle can adapt to a variety of payloads such as rocket launchers, loitering munitions and other configurations depending on the mission, Harnois said.
“We do have a variety of payloads,” Harnois said. “We also have the surveillance payloads with different sensors … and of course, the typical cargo variant or the medical evacuation variant.
“This is a good vehicle for the last-mile resupply, to extract your casualties, bring ammunition forward,” he added. “So yes, a lot of logistical support is really the first thing that comes to mind. But after that, you can equip it with other sensors or weapon systems.”
Along with the autonomous capabilities, the Mission Master CXT is also fully amphibious, Harnois said.
“It's pretty much the only platform that will keep the same payload whether it swims or whether it's on land,” he said. “So, we think it's really nifty, especially with the hybrid engine.”
The hybrid engine “combines the power of a diesel engine with a silent electric motor,” making the vehicle “capable of silently transporting heavy payloads in challenging environments,” according to a Rheinmetall release.
The Mission Master CXT has a range of 450 kilometers, including up to 50 kilometers using the “electric drive,” Harnois said.
Given the vehicle’s unique features and the success Rheinmetall has had with its other autonomous vehicles, the company expects the Mission Master CXT to “attract lots of interest,” he added.
“We are still engaged with different clients currently for the other two variants,” Harnois said. “We will definitely pitch this one, and we're having demos in the next few weeks. So, it will be shown also in a more dynamic way in the very near future.”
Additionally, the company is looking for different ways to integrate its PATH autonomy kit, or A-kit — the software suite which enables the vehicles to operate in unmanned mode — into other platforms, Harnois said.
“We are able to outfit just about any [vehicle] with very little work,” he said. “It's a common autonomous system,” he added, saying that they have outfitted Polaris MRZRs for the British Army, and two of the platforms will be operating in full autonomous mode at Project Convergence 2022.
“So hopefully, we'll be able to showcase [to] different nations — including the U.S. — at that exercise what the A-kit can do for them,” he said.