The Squad Mission Support System, developed by Lockheed Martin, is a manned or unmanned six-wheeler, which aims to lighten the burden on ground troops. It will be entering service in Afghanistan towards the end of 2011.
A Lockheed Martin agent on the stand at DSEi in London, where the vehicle was on display, told Pocket-lint that they’d based the remote console on the Xbox 360 controller because the controls are universally recognised and familiar to troops. As well as the Xbox type controls, the control module will give you a touchscreen.
But remote control isn’t your only option. The SMSS will operate autonomously, scanning the environment for hazards as it goes. It can be set to follow a lead soldier, with the flexibility of the six wheels meaning it can spin on the spot, rather than having to perform tedious three-point turns.
It can also be voice controlled and will remember where it has been, so can be sent back to its start point, ideal for ferrying supplies back and forth. If that isn’t enough, you can give it waypoints to follow, or if you really feel the need, you can drive it yourself.
The control module can be carried in a regular load-carrying vest, while the rest of the squad’s kit can be packed onto the back of this combat mule. It can be airlifted, has a range of 125 miles and will carry a payload of over 500kg.
Lockheed Martin tell us that in the long-term they can see deployment of the SMSS as an armed vehicle, designed for reconnaissance and intelligence gathering.
It will be entering service with US Army and US Marine Corps shortly.