German defense technology company Rheinmetall has received a UK defense ministry contract to deliver AI-enabled Polaris MRZR tactical vehicles for Project Theseus 2.2, an initiative aiming to automate battlefield supply missions.
The company said the first MRZR D4 ultra-light tactical vehicles integrated with the Rheinmetall PATH Autonomy Kit (A-kit) have already been delivered.
Rheinmetall Canada, the Canadian branch of the Rheinmetall Group, worked with Polaris Government and Defense to augment the vehicles for the first time with the PATH A-kit.
The contract was awarded on February 21, 2022, following an invitation to tender. Rheinmetall is serving as the prime contractor, in collaboration with Polaris Government and Defense, an American manufacturer of ultra-light tactical vehicles, and Rheinmetall Provectus, its Ottawa-based robotics branch. Polaris Defence United Kingdom will provide in-country support.
The contract scope includes installation, training, spare parts, and technical support for the PATH A-kit, as well as platform support on 11 Polaris MRZR D4 vehicles. Once equipped with the A-kit, the MRZR D4 will be ready for crewed and teleoperated use cases, as well as autonomous execution of resupply missions in complex terrain, adverse weather conditions, day and night.
The UK defense ministry’s Project Theseus is looking to explore the use of self-driving air or ground platforms to deliver supplies, including ammunition, clothes, food and fuel, to reduce the need for personnel to risk their life by entering into what are typically hostile environments.
The Rheinmetall PATH A-kit transforms crewed vehicles into optionally crewed ground vehicles (OCGVs). AI allows PATH to navigate autonomously using sensor fusion and environment mapping. The system’s standardized, open architecture allows it to be upgraded and to integrate new innovations, the company says.
The Polaris MRZR D4, already used by the British Royal Marines, is a four-person, diesel-powered ultra-light tactical vehicle developed for international special operations, and off-road and expeditionary missions. It can carry a 680 kg payload and tow 680 kg.