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Unmanned vehicles driving ADFA leadership training

A UGV on trial during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2019. Photo: Defence

Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) cadets welcomed the arrival of two Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) in August. The Mk6 UGVs were transferred to the academy after being tested at Talisman Sabre. The UGVs, also known as Mules, are remote-controlled six-wheeled vehicles capable of carrying up to 600kg.

Cadets will restore the vehicles to a serviceable state, with engineering students working on the platforms as part of their extra-curricular activities. The intent is to use the platforms in cadet leadership challenges.

The mules were received by the Future of War VECC, an extracurricular club to facilitate discussion about technology’s impact on war. VECC vice president Hugo McMeeken said cadets didn’t often get hands-on experience with advanced technologies.

“We always hear about how technological development is impacting war fighting,” he said. “To have this initial exposure will be incredibly helpful for us. It gets us thinking about what the future could look like so we can develop our own ideas.”

Major Ash Crosby, of Emerging Technology in the Robotics & Autonomous Systems Implementation & Coordination Office, said the vehicles had been transferred to different groups.

“We don’t want to do the experimentation and just dispose of the units once the activity period is finished, especially when they can continue to offer value to the ADF,” Major Crosby said.  Two Mk6 platforms were given to ADFA and four Mk7 UGV platforms were delivered to DST teams in Adelaide and Melbourne.

Initially pitched as a way to manoeuvre casualties and cargo around the battlefield, soldiers have used the vehicles for tasks such as carriage of electrical cabling or defensive stores.

Soldier feedback has been used to inform potential future development and acquisition of unmanned ground vehicles within land programs.

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