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European Defence Agency-managed ARTUS project develops demonstrator for intelligent swarm of robots

A European Defence Agency-managed project to develop a fleet of unmanned ground vehicles has been successfully completed with a final demonstration of a system. The project ARTUS (Autonomous Rough-terrain Transport Unmanned Ground Vehicles Swarm) developed a demonstrator for a small swarm of intelligent and autonomously operating vehicles to support infantry platoons during their missions.
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ARTUS uses two autonomous ground robots embedded with a computer. The system works by allowing interaction between a geolocalised operator and the swarm, using a Battle Management System and a fleet navigation algorithm (Picture source: EDA)

Whether for transport or observation missions, a swarm can increase troops’ ability to act by supporting them in hostile environments, including in mountainous or forested terrain, increasing their protection level and allowing the greater mobility of a unit.

Completion of ARTUS comes as Europe’s defence community meets in Brussels for the 30 May to 1 June 2023 European Defence Innovation Days. The ARTUS project is an example of the collaborative role of both industry and EDA in developing new technology for the benefit of EU armed forces.

The implementation of ARTUS, a project selected under the 2019 call for proposals for the EU Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR), was launched in February 2021 and ended in January 2023. It had a budget of €1.5 million. Using two autonomous ground robots embedded with a computer, the system works by allowing interaction between a geolocalised operator and the swarm, using a Battle Management System and a fleet navigation algorithm.

The guidance algorithm ensures certain constraints in both the autonomous and supervised motion of a swarm of navigation, following either a predefined path, or managed by a geolocalized operator or tele-operated robot.

With the ability to avoid obstacles, as welll as collisions with robots, a single operator can manage the entire swarm by defining the desired path or collective motion behavior, for example in transportation or observation missions. The swarm can continue the mission even if one robot loses its communication or mobility capabilities.

The ARTUS consortium was led by Fraunhofer Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Angewandten Forschung E.V. (Germany) and also encompassed ONERA (France), Diehl Defence (Germany), and charismaTec (Austria), a highly innovative SME. The project had a duration of 24 months.

About the PADR

The ARTUS project was part of the Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR) launched by the European Commission in 2017 to assess and demonstrate the added value of EU-supported defence research and technology (R&T). It paved the way for the European Defence Fund (EDF), under the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (2021-2027).

The PADR implementation is run by EDA following the mandate via a Delegation Agreement between the European Commission and EDA signed on 31 May 2017. By this agreement, the Commission entrusts EDA with the management and implementation of the research projects launched within the PADR.

Defense News May 2023

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