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General Dynamics Proposes Ocelot ‘Ocebot’ to Enhance Counter-IED Operations

GDLS plans to enhance counter-IED operations: Part 2

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In parallel with its vision to provide multi-functional vehicles to facilitate tactical Counter-IED operations, General Dynamics Land Systems – Force Protection has unveiled new robotics concepts such as its Ocelot “Ocebot” to further enhance those operations through the use of robotics.

According to Jim Church, director of business development for General Dynamics Land Systems – Force Protection, in addition to creating multi-functional vehicle platforms for use by the route clearance companies, the company also envisions “roboticizing route clearance” to optimize tactical operations.

“We believe that the second principle, ‘roboticizing’ route clearance, is really the way to achieve three objectives: [First,] maximum safety for soldiers by removing them from close proximity to the IED and letting robots do all the work; Second, we ‘buy back’ additional time for the commander, which gives him tactical flexibility; Third, by creating robotic platforms that are common across the enterprise, we realize cost savings associated with operations and sustainment costs,” he said.

“The platforms and all the technologies that are associated with this, including the robotic controls, are all in existence,” Church noted. “This is not anything that has to be developed through R&D. It is simply integration followed by a test/demonstrate/exercise process. There are no new technologies necessary to execute this.”

“So there are three important reasons to ‘roboticize’ what is a function of the battlefield that is highly amenable to that kind of solution, because [currently] it is that sequence of collective tasks that are designed to eliminate an IED threat,” he added.

“That’s why we have proposed creating a multi-functional Ocelot platform,” Church said. “We have roboticized it; put a ground penetrating radar (GPR) on it; and put an interrogation arm on it. The result [is] multi-functional Ocelot-based robots that are survivable platforms whose tactical mobility matches the rest of the fleet – both on and off road – carrying a GPR and an interrogation arm. And we have paired it with a ‘Super Buffalo’ that is now a command and control platform for those robots.”

The conceptual robot platforms are being dubbed “Ocebots” by GDLS representatives.

Elaborating on the operational concept, Church described “two or three robots out in front of the Super Buffalo. The Buffalo is standing off up to 500 meters to optimize the safety of the crew. And it is the robots that are at risk identifying and interrogating suspect IED locations.”

The concept included another Ocebot trailing the Super Buffalo and carrying neutralization charges.

“So in the event that they identify an IED and they want to destroy it in place, the Super Buffalo command and control operators bring forward the trailing robot. It places a charge on that IED. The charge is detonated. Using the optics on these robots they visually confirm that it has been fully destroyed. And then they move on,” he explained.

“The robots in front and behind the Super Buffalo are all the same platform,” Church said. “So that gives us the commonality we are talking about in terms of trying to create a common platform that is easy to maintain and that is repairable so that if it does suffer a blast event it can be repaired. It’s not a throw-away. You don’t lose that capability. You simply repair it and you put it back into the fight.”

“The platforms and all the technologies that are associated with this, including the robotic controls, are all in existence,” Church noted. “This is not anything that has to be developed through R&D. It is simply integration followed by a test/demonstrate/exercise process. There are no new technologies necessary to execute this.”

To date the concept has been discussed with the Army’s Product Manager for Assured Mobility Systems (PM AMS), the Army G8, and the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo.

“This is where we think we can contribute to making a more effective route clearance process,” Church said. “So that is conceptually what we are bringing forward.”

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...