"The goal of the machine is to carry all the gear and material that a soldier might need to move around a battlefield, especially in remote and austere areas," explains Myron Mills, program manager of the SMSS.
"Today, the typical infantry soldier carries about 120-130 pounds of kit on them and that's just a typical load," he adds, saying the SMSS is about the size of a compact car.
Lockheed Martin expects a new vehicle resembling SMSS to become an official U.S. Army program in the next 2-3 years. Prototypes have already been tested by the U.S. military in combat missions in Afghanistan. It has also designed a kit that gives existing military vehicles robotic capabilities.
While unmanned ground vehicles are already in wide use by the military in tasks such as bomb disposal, these tend to be small machines confined to a close range, Mills said.
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"As you get into the size class of UGVs that we're working with on the SMSS, it opens up a whole new range of things that you can do with a vehicle – it has tremendous endurance, a lot of power, the ability to get over a lot of rough terrain," he added.
Mills said the SMSS can also be used for other functions such as counter-mine missions, surveillance, communications and portable power.