ECA GROUP unveils upgrades on its CAMELEON UGV - Get ready for the MK3 version !

Friday, February 12 2021
ECA GROUP unveils the latest upgrades brought to its CAMELEON E Unmanned Ground Vehicle. This MK3 version enhances its capabilities for Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and Ordnance Explosive Devices (OED) clearance missions, ease of use and compatibility with ECA GROUP UGV range.

Explosive devices are a cheap and easy way for terrorists and foes to launch a large-scale attack. These threats are numerous and in constant evolution, becoming evermore difficult to detect, access or neutralize. It is particularly true when dealing with IED/OED devices or Chemical, Biological, radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) hazards. Therefore, robotic systems must be versatile enough to adapt to these threats.

 

Commonality with ECA GROUP UGV and UAV range

Having a versatile and efficient UGV can be achieved through constant innovation, accompanied by technical evolutions and expansion of performance, functions or integration of payloads. Compatibility is another characteristic that many UGV users are looking for when managing multiple UGV platforms – sharing the same command and control interface or when it comes to sensors plug-ins.

Leveraging on the cutting-edge technologies implemented on its latest IGUANA UGV, ECA GROUP has also upgraded the CAMELEON E robot. ECA GROUP now offers the CAMELEON E MK3, a new version with enhanced performances, with an intuitive user interface that is now compatible with ECA GROUP’s entire and wide range of UGVs.

Typical mission’s modules such as the manipulator 6 axis arm, the Pan&Tilt zoom camera, the X-Ray system, gripper jaws, disrupters, COFDM transmission, fiber optic transmission, CBRN…are fully compatible with the IGUANA UGV range.

As well, CAMELEON MK3 is fully compatible with the UAV IT180, which can be used in collaborating mode on the battlefield in order to give tactical feedback to the operator.

 

Enhanced capability for improved on-field efficiency

Benefitting from the latest electronic development made for the IGUANA UGV, the CAMELEON E MK3 has seen its internal architecture upgraded. As a result, its technical capabilities have been enhanced to bring a real added value to operators in terms of user-friendliness, accessories compatible, performance and on-field maneuverability.

 

Increased arm capacities

One of the main upgrades concerns its 6-axis manipulator arm, enhancing its performance. The arm is now compatible with the IGUANA UGV to reduce the logistic foot print and spare additional costs.

This major upgrade has been designed to facilitate articulated manipulation and offers more possibilities to on-field users, whichever the mission at stake.

Technical improvements implemented allow several advantages, including:

  • An increased lifting capability of 4kg when the arm is stretched-out and a double-batched folded arm capacity of 15kg, to handle the manipulation of heavier loads. With this extended capacity, the CAMELEON E can lift the equivalent of the weight of a mid-sized microwave oven;
  • An increased range of jaws and claws accessories adapted for several manipulations - grab, move, wire cutting, windows breaker, dropping explosive charge, additional mast camera – allowing, for example, breaking car glass, opening  doors (car, building), inspection of suspended ceilings, collecting cylindrical ammunition, etc;
  • Capabilities to fit up to 2 disruptors on the arm, gaining critical mission time by neutralizing several threats in one mission without the need to re-equip the robot in between;
  • 3 additional cameras can be equipped on the arm to maximize the visibility over the operation (1 on the turret, 2 on the wrists).

Same operation - here an intervention on a car- seen from the different cameras on the CAMELEON E MK3:

 

Pan/Tilt camera

Arm claw camera

Wrist camera - side

Front Camera

Upper wrist camera

Turret camera

 

Improved viewing capabilities

An Unmanned Ground Vehicle, the CAMELEON E was originally designed to access hazardous or constrained areas instead of human operators. It is thus primordial for the UGV’s operator to have a good vision of the environment surrounding the robot. Detecting threats or identifying suspicious objects, the CAMELEON E MK3 offers an enhanced situation awareness to the operator.

Thanks to the main camera upgrade, the Pan&Tilt camera, the CAMELEON E MK3 has seen its zoom capability grow from a X4 digital zoom to a X120 zoom (x10 optical and x12 digital). The operator can thus enjoy a high quality viewing over the operation and better identify threats from the distance.

More specifically, for IED/OED missions, the CAMELEON E MK3 is equipped with the latest cutting-edge X-ray module, allowing to check the insides of suspicious objects. Such feature is particularly adapted for critical sites’ protection or major events’ security.

For CBRN missions, the CAMELEON E MK3 can integrate sensors (AP4C, HDS101) and now the latest XAM7000 multi-gas sensor, capable of detecting and measuring simultaneously and continuously up to five gases.

 

Improved localization and transmission capabilities

Information transmission, from the robot to the control unit and return, is essential to successfully conduct a remotely operated mission. ECA GROUP has thus also enhanced the localization and transmission capabilities of the CAMELEON E MK3.

For a better situation awareness, the UGV is equipped with a GPS system allowing to precisely feature the position of both the robot and the operator on a map, that can be downloaded onto the control unit. The map uses the Geotiff format that allows to add geo-referencing information to an image. In addition, the laser telemeter capacity range has been significantly improved from 7 m to 25 m, allowing to determine the distance ahead for reconnaissance mission or to detect suspicious devices.

Transmission features have also received a technical upgrade to support operators on missions requiring to cover large areas. The optic fiber reel that can be optionally fitted on the UGV has seen its cable length increase by another 100m, reaching a 300m distance. Attention was also brought to strengthening the internal COFDM/MESH transmissions with a 500 meter reach in Line-of-sight propagation, and better range in industrial areas.

 

Enhanced handiness for operators

User-friendliness is at the heart of ECA GROUP’s concerns when dealing with robotic systems. To improve the handiness of the CAMELEON, the enhanced multi-axis manipulator arm can be controlled in Cartesian mode to facilitate manipulation works, allowing high precision when grabbing objects.

User manipulation is possible through the intuitive portable control unit. Both software and hardware were upgraded to support operators and bring the most of the enhanced features:

  • The control unit allows operators to control specific parts of the manipulator arm, thus facilitating precise manipulations as each part of the arm can also be controlled independently;
  • The UGV is equipped with an anti-tilt management system based on a dynamic management of its centre of gravity. This system allows to secure loads on the arms. Upgrades allow the operator to easily declare the load so that the UGV can automatically correct its position to avoid tip over during the mission;
  • Cartesian mode allowing precise manipulation of the manipulator arm whilst maintaining a fixed point.

 

Improved user-friendly interface and compatibility

The control and command unit interface has also been completely revised to bring a better user experience on a 11,6 inches Full HD screen. Based on a simple and user-friendly drag and drop system similar to those used for smartphones, the user will be able to customize the screen display with different dynamic context menus corresponding to the sensors fitted. Sensors display can be managed through function groups affected.

This new interface also has the particularity to be shared with ECA GROUP's latest UGV, the IGUANA, making possible to manage both vehicles very easily from a single interface.

 

A field proven and reliable UGV solution

The UGV CAMELEON E MK3 has been supporting force protection units by providing situational awareness for over 10 years. This combat proven solution equips many armed forces worldwide and has recently been involved alongside the French Army’s  Barkhane operations in Sahel. The CAMELEON UGV also equips civil protection operators, including the French and Hungarian police units.

The CAMELEON E MK3 has been widely recognized for its efficiency in regards to conducting surveillance & reconnaissance, CBRNe inspection and IED/EOD missions. This easy-to-use UGV system offers a wide range of cameras, jaws and disruptors to fit according to the mission, with a "plug and play" system allowing a very quick deployment on-field for:

  • Car / luggage / suspect package / inspection
  • Reconnaissance before intervention and CBRN analysis
  • Trap removal / bomb disposal
  • Route opening and convoy protection

From search and localization to the neutralization of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), ECA GROUP's UGVs allow to save lives and reduce human exposure to danger.

In sum, for the user, the new version of the CAMELEON E MK3 offers many advantages:

  • Just one payload needed for 2 different platforms, which reduces the costs for global acquisition
  • Reduced down-time since everything is plug and play which means operational gain on battlefield
  • A common interface improving ease of use for the operators on multiple platforms
  • Reduced logistic footprint
  • Less need for training
  • Reduced the cost of the maintenance
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