Omnitech's Standardized Teleoperation System (STS), also called the Standardized Robotic System (SRS), was originally developed by Omnitech Robotics International LLC (ORILLC) for the Unmanned Ground Vehicles/Systems Joint Program Office, US Marine Corp, and US Army. Initial application of STS converted two D7 tractors, one M1 Panther II tank, and two High-Mobility Multipurpose Vehicles (HMMWVs) also known as Humvees to unmanned teleoperation. Now, nearly 60 vehicles are equipped with STS kits for unmanned operation, including tanks, tractors, HMMWVs, Skytrak forklift, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), and trucks.
The Common Robotic System (CRS) is a kit that can be adapted to a wide range of vehicles and gives military units an option to remotely control their vehicles through teleoperation or semi-autonomously over a pre-determined path. Robotic kits installed on the Abrams Panther are still referred to as Standard Robotic System (SRS). The first applications inserted optional teleoperation capability into existing combat engineer vehicles for mine proofing and other hazardous operations.
The M60 Panther is an M60 Patton tank specially modified for mine clearing missions. Modifications include the removal the turret, and installation of mine rollers on the front of the vehicle and Omnitech's Standardized Teleoperation System (STS). STS-equipped M60s have cleared antipersonnel and antitank mines in Bosnia and Kosovo. Omnitech's STS kit allows these vehicles to be operated from a safe distance, preventing injury to military personnel involved in this extremely hazardous mission.
The M-60 configuration with SRS (the Panther system) was developed and built in response to a need for an improved route proofing system in Bosnia. The system was delivered to Bosnia in early June 1996. By introducing a remote control system for turretless M-60s equipped with rollers, the value of un-manned systems for mine clearance was proven. Nearly 350 mines, anti-personnel and anti-armor, have been detonated and more than 500 miles of road have been mine-proofed during Operation Joint Endeavor and Joint Guard in Bosnia. In Bosnia, Panther allowed the operator to be remoted and protected inside another vehicle. Limited contingency fielding validated the design's flexibility and is providing valuable user data for the acquisition program. As of 2000, three Panther systems were operating in Bosnia.
M1 Abrams Panther II
The M1 Abrams Panther II is an M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank specially modified for mine clearing missions. Modifications include the removal the turret, and installation of mine rollers on the front of the vehicle and Omnitech's Standardized Teleoperation System.
The Panther II is a 43-ton, remote controlled vehicle that can clear a 50,000-square-foot minefield in one hour. It can be operated up to 2,600 feet away. The M1 Abrams Panther is an M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank specially modified for mine clearing missions. Modifications to the Abrams tank include the removal the turret, and installation of mine rollers on the front of the vehicle. Rollers attached to the front of the vehicle explode landmines without causing damage to the vehicle. Weighing 43 tons, the Panther II can clear a 5,000-square-meter area within an hour. Plow and roller kit attachments push mines out of the way when clearing roads without damaging the vehicle.
The remote-controlled Panther II mine-clearing vehicle allows engineers to increase safety and efficiency standards. The Panther II offers a marked improvement over current methods of clearing mines and unexploded ordnance from roads and assembly areas during contingency operations. Instead of putting sappers (engineers) on the ground with mine detectors and probes, the vehicle can rapidly and thoroughly clear large, hazardous areas at an extremely low risk to soldiers and civilians.
It is not difficult to use. Soldiers can operate the Panther II from 2,600 feet away, but generally keep it at about 800 meters. It's not like a remote-controlled plastic car where if you run into a building it's no big deal. With this vehicle there would be some serious damage done. If needed, a panic button located in the briefcase-sized remote control can halt the vehicle immediately. The vehicle can clear lanes effectively and efficiently, saving man hours, and it will save engineer lives by demolishing mines.
The two Panther II vehicles in the 130th Engineer Brigade's arsenal are one-third of the Army's total stock. Two have been used since 1999 for mine-clearing missions in Bosnia, and two more are en route to Kosovo.
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