US Army Just Got Two New Unmanned Robotic Scouts

The vehicles can operate under the control of a human or in semi-autonomous modes.
Loukia Papadopoulos

Just in time for Christmas, the U.S. Army has received two Robotic Combat Vehicle-Light unmanned ground vehicle prototypes (RCV-Ls) by American firm Pratt Miller. We know this because the firm tweeted this lovely picture of the RCV-Ls with big red bows on them.


Revolutionary vehicles

Pratt Miller has been working on the two potentially revolutionary vehicles with U.K.-headquartered defense contractor QinetiQ. The firms were awarded the contract for the development of the RCV-Ls back in January according to Defense News.

"Robots have the potential to revolutionize the way we conduct ground combat operations,” Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the NGCV CFT, had said back then in a statement acquired by Defense News.

“Whether that’s giving increased firepower to a dismounted patrol, breaching an enemy fighting position, or providing [chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive] reconnaissance, we envision these vehicles providing commanders more time and space for decisions and reducing risk to soldiers.”

As the army wanted its RCV-L contenders to weigh under 10 tons, both the new vehicles are around seven tons. The vehicles are hybrid-electric designs that offer fuel economy, another very desirable aspect for the army.

The vehicles can operate under the control of a human or in semi-autonomous modes. They are also equipped with rubber band tracks that are superior to typical tracks as they are quieter, can handle all kinds of terrain, and are faster too.

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Four vehicles

This is not the first time the army receives these advanced prototypes. The contract was for four vehicles and the first one was delivered in November while the second came earlier this month.

"This is an important step forward for the RCV enterprise and, more importantly, for our Soldiers," had said Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the Army's Next-Generation Combat Vehicles Cross-Functional Team at the time of the first delivery.

"We look forward to getting this prototype into the hands of our Soldiers and getting their feedback on how we can best utilize Robotic Combat Vehicles in defense of our great nation."