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EU awards grant for development of standard unmanned ground vehicle

THeMIS (Tracked Hybrid Modular Infantry System) is a multi-role unmanned ground vehicle (UGV)
Photo: Milrem Robotics

The European Commission has signed a €32,6 million grant to launch the development of a European standard unmanned ground system (UGS).

The grant was signed with Estonian robotic vehicle specialist Milrem Robotics, who will lead the consortium composed of several major European defense, communication and cybersecurity companies.

The requirements for the standardized iMUGS (Integrated Modular Unmanned Ground System) have been set by seven EU member states: Estonia, the leader of the project, and Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia and Spain. The named countries are collectively financing €2 million of the €32,6 million budget.

“Estonia has the honor and a great responsibility taking the lead in this project as nothing on a similar scale has been conducted before. Our goal is not only making iMUGS a one-time effort but to build it into a base project for future developments. Our long-term goal is that each of the modular systems built, will pave a way for further innovation in its field,” said Martin Jõesaar, Chief of Project Office in the Estonian Centre for Defence Investment.

“iMUGS is an excellent example of cooperation in Europe: seven countries have created common requirements for a future robotic system and have a common understanding of how the system is to be deployed. The result of iMUGS will be a modular and scalable solution that will not only fill all the needs of Europe but be also deployable worldwide,” said Kuldar Väärsi, CEO of Milrem Robotics.

Europe is expected to need thousands of UGS during the next 10-15 years growing the value of the market into billions of euros. With seven participating nations and key industrial players, the UGS developed during iMUGS is expected to become the preferred European solution for integrating into armed units.

During iMUGS, a modular and scalable architecture for hybrid manned-unmanned systems will be developed to standardize a European wide ecosystem for aerial and ground platforms, command, control and communication equipment, sensors, payloads, and algorithms. Addressed operational challenges include enhanced interoperability, increased situational awareness and faster decision-making. The system will utilize an existing unmanned ground vehicle – Milrem Robotics’ THeMIS – and a specific list of payloads.

The outcome of the project will be demonstrated in operational environments and relevant climatic conditions as part of participating member states military exercises or at separate testing events. The first demonstration is planned already for the second quarter of 2021 and will be held in Estonia.

iMUGS is a cooperation between 13 parties: Milrem Robotics (project coordinator), GT Cyber Technologies, Safran Electronics & Defense, NEXTER Systems, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Diehl Defence, Bittium, Insta DefSec, (Un)Manned, dotOcean, Latvijas Mobilais Telefons, GMV Aerospace and Defence, and Royal Military Academy of Belgium.