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Rheinmetall receives 5G Grant to develop autonomous vehicle technology

Rheinmetall has been named a recipient of the Australian Government’s 5G Innovation Initiative, a competitive grants program to help small to large businesses in Australia test and develop 5G uses, applications, services and products, including Internet of Things applications, which will help build Australia’s 5G ecosystem.

Rheinmetall Defence Australia Managing Director, Gary Stewart, said the grant was welcome support for the organisation’s ground-breaking autonomous vehicle technology utilising 5G and drone based communication relay systems.

The 5G Grant Initiative supports rigorous, commercial, and replicable testing of 5G uses and, through case studies of successful trials, will help showcase the productivity boosting applications of the technology to encourage other business to better understand ways they can adopt 5G solutions.

“The Rheinmetall Advanced Firefighting Concept (AFC) program is an innovative Australian research enterprise to develop autonomous vehicles capable of fighting bushfires in extreme environments,” he said. “The AFC is based on the German Army MARDER platform and aims to reduce the risk to frontline firefighters. This was developed in the aftermath of the 2019/20 bushfires.”

The ex-military MARDER has been transformed into a firefighting vehicle capable of traversing dangerous terrains to support rescue, path clearing and firefighting missions over distances in excess of 100 kilometres.

Mr Stewart said that with the support of Telstra, Rheinmetall will use an Un-crewed Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to create a communications relay device to establish a 5G network to the remote firefighting vehicle.

“The UAV will be deployed from the Rheinmetall concept firefighting vehicle (MARDER) to support test and evaluation activities,” he added.

Rheinmetall has invested more than $10m into advanced autonomous systems research and development with Australian research partners CSIRO, DSTG, RMIT and QUT; this grant will provide a first time partnership between Rheinmetall and Telstra.

Meanwhile, American Rheinmetall Vehicles has signed a Master Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center (DEVCOM AC). This CRADA allows the DEVCOM AC and American Rheinmetall Vehicles to collaborate on development of integrated combat vehicle weapon, fire control, and ammunition technologies.

Among other research and development tasks, the CRADA provides a conduit for the team to explore integration of the U.S. Army’s XM913 50mm cannon on platforms that are potential candidates for the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) program. American Rheinmetall Vehicles has submitted a proposal in the Army’s Phase II of the OMFV program.

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