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Research Program 5+6 - Unmanned Mobile Systems

Unmanned systems are revolutionising the operational field of security forces. The potential applications are manifold and range from the procurement of information, surveillance, defence and disruption to subterfuge, explosive ordinance disposal and logistical tasks. Unmanned systems significantly reduce the risk potential for humans and are thus intended to be deployed in inhospitable environments.

Unmanned Mobile Systems


The aim of the research program is to develop technological and scientific expertise for the evaluation of unmanned systems to be used in the ground and air areas of operation. The program also aims to identify operational opportunities and risks. Finally, it also focuses on supporting Swiss security policy with respect to issues on the ethics, international laws and arms control policies related to unmanned systems.

The number of unmanned mobile systems has risen continuously in recent years – in both the civilian and military segments. While the widespread use of unmanned systems in civilian life can at present be mainly attributed to leisure applications, unmanned systems are already playing a key role in the global military environment. Nevertheless, unmanned systems still have an enormous potential, which needs to be developed. It is assumed that the use of unmanned systems can massively increase the performance of security forces in almost all areas of use. Unmanned systems are at present predominantly used in air operations in military zones, with each aircraft being remote controlled or monitored by an allocated pilot.

The advances made in the fields of sensor systems, navigation, data processing and drive and control technology are enabling a large degree of autonomy in unmanned systems, so that humans can concentrate on tasks in which their skills are indispensable. In addition, new modes of mobility and the extensive miniaturisation of systems will make it possible to explore areas that are not accessible using current means. The agility and reactivity of aircraft can be developed to a level that is not achievable today due to the physiological limits of human performance. This concerns both large increases in velocity and long periods of continuous operation.

The development of expertise within the Unmanned mobile systems research program is carried out with the help of a multilateral cooperation network through technology monitoring studies, market analyses, research projects and demonstrators.

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New mobility concepts that are fundamentally different to the drive technology used in traditional vehicle designs are being developed in modern robotics. In order to improve mobility behaviour in terms of agility, energy efficiency, obstacle-avoidance capability and versatility, research is being carried out into new “intelligent” mechanical designs and advanced control algorithms.

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In order for unmanned systems to be able to operate to a large extent without human support and with a high degree of reliability in challenging and unknown areas, advances need to be made in localisation, mapping and path planning. In the research program, solutions are being developed that do not require external navigation aids (e.g. GPS) and can still function in the event of communication outages.

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Unmanned mobile systems have huge potential benefits, but also entail risks and dangers for humans and the environment. In addition to research into intuitive interfaces between humans and machines as well as between machines operating in parallel, studies into the protection of humans and the environment against the threats caused by unmanned systems are also extremely important.

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The number of potential applications in which unmanned systems can be used is huge, ranging from reconnaissance (SIGINT, COMINT, RADINT, IMINT, ELINT), surveillance, communication, disruption, subterfuge and explosive ordinance disposal missions to the transport of people and goods. The research program addresses unarmed applications, mainly in the procurement of information, and focuses strongly on the benefits of such applications being used to provide emergency aid.

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The number of potential applications in which unmanned systems can be used is huge, ranging from reconnaissance (SIGINT, COMINT, RADINT, IMINT, ELINT), surveillance, communication, disruption, subterfuge and explosive ordinance disposal missions to the transport of people and goods. The research program addresses unarmed applications, mainly in the procurement of information, and focuses strongly on the benefits of such applications being used to provide emergency aid.

Network

An active and wide-ranging network of partners from the professional world, academia, universities and other research institutes in Switzerland and abroad is utilised and maintained in order to develop expertise. In order to keep track of skills and capabilities, close contact and an exchange of information is maintained with users and the planning, procurement and test centres of the DDPS.


Science and Technology Research Management
and Operations Research
Feuerwerkerstrasse 39
CH-3602 Thun
Tel.
+41 58 468 27 78

Research Program Manager

Dr. Markus Höpflinger
E-Mail

Science and Technology

Research Management
and Operations Research
Feuerwerkerstrasse 39
CH-3602 Thun