ECA Group contributes to the TURMA consortium for the European EDIDP programme to develop the military land vehicles of the future
Within the framework of the call for projects prefiguring the future European Defence Fund (EDIDP), the TURMA grouping brings together 24 SMEs, ETIs, large groups and public institutions from 9 European countries. Coordinated by the Belgian group John Cockerill, its objective is to limit the exposure to dangers of troops deployed in theatres of operations, while increasing their on-ground effectiveness.
In practice, the idea is to enable the military to adapt to their mission’s requirements by reversibly transforming all of their armoured vehicles into autonomous or remotely operated platforms, capable of acting independently or in swarms. This ability will be useful, for example, in responding to contaminated environments or extracting an injured person from a hazardous area. This particularly innovative versatility will be made possible by the development of technological, software and physical bricks, which can be integrated both in the tanks currently in service within the various armies or in the future vehicles.
AN INTEGRATED PLATFORM OF COMMAND AND CONTROL OF UNMANNED VEHICLES
In this context, ECA Group with its expertise in drone systems will contribute in the planning and supervision of robot missions in order to provide an integrated platform for programming and controlling a fleet of unmanned vehicles. In the field of mine clearance at sea, the group has already developed and marketed UMISOFTTM software suite for mission management and collaboration of drones of different types (surface, submarine, aerial). Relying on this proven and reliable architecture as well as on its expertise in land (UGVs) and air (UAVs) robotics, a new generation of software will be developed to adapt to land patrol missions, urban combat or convoy protection in the event of asymmetric warfare.
The system to be developed will integrate new powerful algorithms capable to provide the best solutions on a battlefield, in real time and take into account as much information as possible provided by the drones and sensors.
Particular attention will be paid to the human-machine interface since part of the system's acceptance and effectiveness will be directly related to its design. The more relevant and unambiguous the information displayed, the more operators will be able to remain focused on the main objectives of the mission. Data communication and securing the entire system against cyber-attacks will also be among the priorities considered.
Beyond the military dimension, many elements are also adaptable to civilian applications. By extension, this programme therefore offers that Europe obtain strategic independence in the markets for unmanned land systems, ranging from armoured vehicles to autonomous cars.
What the TURMA project offers the European Union is thus a typical example of what defence cooperation shall be today: inclusive with actors of all types and from many countries, useful in developing technological bricks that will benefit the whole industry, economic by adapting to the technologies of the future as well as to existing equipment and practical by strengthening the link between advanced technology and the people it must serve.
PHOTO COURTESY BY GTD International/John Cockerill Defense