Keeping pace with the infantry
The PLATON Kit steers auxiliary vehicle up hill and down dale
During a test campaign with the 6./Wachbataillon (Guard Battalion) in Lehnin at the end of November, Diehl Defence proved that its infantry support vehicle jointly developed with the industry partner Hentschel System GmbH and Mattro will not stop for difficult terrain and dense forest. The Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) equipped with the Autonomy Kit PLATON independently follows the soldier walking ahead who is thus able to focus completely on his actual tasks. The "follow-me"-capability put into action with PLATON operates without active sensors, such as LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and GPS, which could be easily detected or jammed by the enemy. The UGV maneuvers around trees and manages obstacles by either avoiding or - if possible - driving over them, thus enabling soldiers to move fast and without attracting attention in the field.
The Diehl Defence UGV is based on the Ziesel platform from Mattro. With its small dimensions of 148 x 123 cm (LxW), its low dead weight of 300 kg and a maximum payload of more than 300 kg, this vehicle is the perfect infantry support when it comes to the transport of heavy equipment in the terrain. Due to its high maneuverability, the UGV can accompany soldiers through a dense wooded area without impeding them. Equipped with exchangeable 10 kWh lithium-ion batteries, Mattro Ziesel operates completely electrically, attracts no attention by loud running or engine noises and is able to reach a speed of up to 20 km/h.
The stand-alone capabilities are realized by the Autonomy Kit PLATON developed by Diehl Defence. By order of the Bundeswehr, PLATON is currently used on military utility vehicles of the type "Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicle HX58". The Finnish Armed Forces field-test the Autonomy Kit on their Patria AMV (Armored Modular Vehicle) and, in addition, the kit finds application on special-purpose vehicles such as the Hippo Multipower ATSV and the Milrem THeMIS.
During the exercise in Lehnin, the Heavy Infantry Squad was able to operate significantly faster than usual, thanks to the UGV support. This enables soldiers to try new approaches.
Furthermore, the combined application of UGV and UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles/drones) was demonstrated in Lehnin. Mission planning and UGV or UAV control were carried out with the Sitaware Frontline Battlefield Management System (BMS) from Systematics. This system has recently been chosen as the new BMS for the army and is currently being introduced to the troops. In the scenario shown, the aerial vehicle equipped with a camera independently followed the vehicle on the ground. The Infantry Squad had a significantly better overview of the situation thanks to the use of the UAV. The high level of automation allows the control of both the UGV and UAV system by only one operator.