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Australia funds development of autonomous vehicle for MEDEVAC missions

Unmanned Ground Vehicle
Moose UGV. Photo: Chironix

The Australian defense ministry announced it would work with Perth-based technology company Chironix on a robotic command and control system that would enable casualties to be evacuated from the battlefield on an autonomous vehicle.

Chironix’s system, which is at the proof-of-concept stage, would also enable deployed soldiers to call for supplies or perform other logistical tasks using robots.

The company develops software for robots that tailors them for use not only in defense, but across a range of sectors including mining, construction and oil and gas.

Defense industry minister Melissa Price said Chironix would help research what role robots could play in providing advanced casualty care and treatment to soldiers injured on the battlefield.

The agreement is valued at almost AU$160,000 and would also include looking at the use of driverless technology in vehicle convoys across a range of difficult military environments.

Minister Price said Chironix had demonstrated its advanced skills in robotics and software engineering through its engagements with the Australian defense ministry and the US Office of Naval Research.

“Technological evolution and innovation in land combat and protected vehicle capability is integral to giving Australia a warfighting edge,” Minister Price said. “A key contributor to this will be the development of a robust, resilient and internationally competitive Australian defense industry.”

The defense ministry did not provide details on whether the UGV would be based on a platform already offered by Chironix, or on a completely new platform. The company has the Moose 8×8 unmanned ground vehicle that could perform the task with a length of almost 3 meters and a payload capacity of over 500 kilos.