iMUGS Developing A Standardized European System for Ground Robots
(Source: Belgian Ministry of Defense; issued July 6, 2020)
The general architecture of the iMUGS project. (Belgian MoD graphic)
The Royal Military College (École Royale Militaire, ERM) is part of a consortium called iMUGS (integrated Modular Unmanned Ground System), made up of several large defense, communications and cybersecurity companies as well as high-tech SMEs.

This consortium received € 30.6 million from the European Defense Industrial Development Program (EDIDP) of the European Commission to develop a standardized European system for ground robots.

The project will develop a modular and scalable architecture for piloted and unmanned hybrid systems in order to standardize an ecosystem on a European scale for air and land platforms, command, control and communication equipment, sensors, payloads and algorithms.

The prototype of the system will use an existing unmanned ground vehicle - the THeMIS robot from Milrem Robotics - and a specific list of payloads. The result of the project will be demonstrated in operational environments and relevant climatic conditions within the framework of military exercises of the participating member states or on separate test grounds.

The Robotics & Autonomous Systems (RAS) unit of the Royal Military School (http://mecatron.rma.ac.be) will lead the swarming sub-project within the framework of the iMUGS project, with the aim of providing advances in swarming technologies in order to extend the capacities of a single robot, where heterogeneous resources will have the capacity to work in groups with a common mission objective.

In addition, the ERM will also organize a demonstration in a coastal environment to demonstrate the capabilities of the iMUGS system in order to carry out ISR reconnaissance missions by swarming (more than one robot) beyond the line of sight.

"We are convinced that robotics and autonomous systems are an emerging field that can provide solutions for long-term defense objectives, in order to tackle effectively very complex challenges, while helping to reduce the cognitive load of our troops and their commanders in critical environments. Therefore, we are confident that our participation in the iMUGS project will lead us to further develop our existing capabilities in the field of robotics and autonomous systems," said Dr. Ir. Haris Balta, who heads the iMUGS project at ERM.

During the project, operational know-how will be gathered and concepts for the combined engagement of human and non-human units will be developed, while considering the ethical aspects applicable to robotics, artificial intelligence and autonomous systems. Virtual simulation environments will also be set up.

iMUGS is a cooperation between 14 players: Milrem Robotics (project coordinator), GT Cyber Technologies, Safran Electronics & Defense, NEXTER Systems, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Diehl Defense, Bittium Wireless, Insta DefSec, (Un) Manned, dotOcean, Latvijas Mobilais Telefons, GMV Aerospace and Defense, the Estonian Military Academy and the Royal Military School.

Background:
The objectives of the EDIDP program are to contribute to the strategic autonomy of the European Union and to strengthen cooperation between member states. Priorities include enabling new military operations with an emphasis on intelligence, secure communications and cybersecurity. Actions include developing the next generation of ground combat capabilities and solutions in artificial intelligence, virtual reality and cybertechnologies.

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