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Multifunction Utility/Logistics Equipment Vehicle (MULE) UGV (1 Ton)
Robotic Infantry Support System (RISS)

The Multifunction Utility/Logistics Equipment Vehicle (MULE) is an unmanned platform that provides transport of equipment and/or supplies in support of dismounted maneuver. There are three variants of the MULE. These are MULES designed for 1) transport, 2) Air assault, and 3) Countermine use.

The Multifunction Utility/Logistics and Equipment Vehicle (MULE) is an unmanned platform that provides transport of equipment and/or supplies in support of dismounted maneuver forces. It will also be capable of being armed in the role of support to dismounted infantry in the close assault.

The General Dynamics Eagle Enterprise concept for the Objective Force Warrior [OFW] system of systems includes a Robotic Infantry Support System (RISS, aka robotic mule or mule). The RISS will reduce the soldier's load and could carry supplementary supplies such as water and ammunition. General Dynamics envisions additional uses for the RISS that may include reconnaissance and surveillance or medical and personnel transport. The 15-foot long, six-foot wide vehicle will be capable of carrying a payload of up to 2000 pounds of weapons, supplies or personnel.

Anything else that's mission-essential but not built in to the individual soldier system will be carried on a "robotic mule." The mule will assist with not only taking some of the load carriage off the individual soldier, but he also provides a host of other functions. Primarily water generation (and) water purification. It's a recharging battery station for all the individual Objective Force Warriors in the squad. It acts as a weapons platform. It has day and night thermal, infrared and forward-looking imaging systems inside the nose of the mule, as well as chemical-biological sensors. The mule can also communicate with unmanned aerial vehicles to give the squad members a true 360-degree image of the battlefield. Currently this capability isn't available below the battalion level. It's a follower, and it can be manipulated and brought forth by any member of the squad. It's essentially a mini load-carriage system that's there for them all the time, which allows lightening the load for the individual soldier, but he has resupply available at a moment's notice.

The MULE is a UGV weighing up to 1 ton that performs a transportation mission (either dismount troop material services or supplies movement). The MULE will be part of an organization of vehicles, sensors, C2 hardware and software systems, and communications systems. The MULE may incorporate mechanisms (such as a robot arm/hand) to facilitate transloading equipment or supplies on and off the vehicle. The MULE provides mobility sufficient to maneuver with the dismounted FCS force within an operational area, and is towed to the operational area by a larger vehicle. The MULE provides semi-autonomous navigation, possibly including automated transloading of selected supplies. About 30% to 40% of the MULE weight will be available for transported loads.

In early 2003 the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Army and their contractor teams unveiled Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicle (UGCV) technology demonstration platform to the public. The prototype now enters a period of extensive testing and refinement to validate the design performance characteristics and highlight capabilities enabled by unique design approaches. The rollout is an important achievement moving from design and simulation to the full-scale hardware testing needed to provide information to the Army for their FCS decision milestones. The UGCV prototype represents significant advances in vehicle design, and embodies a strategy for the kind of high mobility, efficiency, deployability, and resilience that will be needed to generate significant mission value to future forces.

The 1,500 pound Team Retarius platform rolled out during a ceremony at Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N.M., on 22 January 2003. The Team Retarius UGCV will carry a variety of payloads weighing approximately 350 pounds and is close to the size the Future Combat Systems is considering for its "mule" type vehicle. FCS envisions the "mule" vehicle in a variety of roles from direct support to dismounted troops to light reconnaissance as part of a network of combat entities. Team Retarius was established by Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control and includes team members Sandia National Laboratories, Rod Millen Special Vehicles, BAE Systems, MSE High Performance Materials Group and Atkinson Associates.

DARPA and the Army sponsored the development of the prototype UGCV technology demonstration platforms as a part of the jointly funded Future Combat Systems (FCS) program. The design can accommodate severe events such as rollovers and continue operation upside down. It is configured for air drop and long-range operations to simplify early entry, and reduce their logistics burden. The vehicle is also highly mobile and can obtain very low profile configurations to reduce detectability. Power systems aboard the vehicle are advanced hybrid electric to provide long silent watch and movement as well as enable unique payload packaging strategies.






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