DALLAS, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- An unmanned ground vehicle under development for the U.S. military has been successfully operated via a satellite link.
Lockheed Martin said its Squad Mission Support System performed several ground surveillance missions, with operators 200 miles away at the U.S. Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center in Warren, Mich.
"These demonstrations allow the Army development communities to better understand capabilities available to them with SMSS right now," said Joe Zinecker, director of combat maneuver systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.
"We are showing our customers innovative ways to employ SMSS vehicles in missions while demonstrating that we are ready to move from technology development to fielding these valuable and mature new capabilities."
The SMSS was equipped with a Gyrocam 9M Tactical Surveillance Sensor and a "SATCOM-On-the-Move" system from General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies.
In one simulated mission the SMSS movement and sensor functions were controlled from the remote station via tele-operation, demonstrating control of the vehicle through the satellite. In another, an operator provided a preplanned route and the SMSS navigated it with minimal operator intervention.
Other functions and capabilities -- such as follow-me, go-to-point and retro-traverse -- were demonstrated.
Four SMSS vehicles were successfully tested by soldiers in Afghanistan in 2012 as transport and logistics vehicles.
"The concept of an affordable common mobility platform coupled with specialized mission equipment packages is the right answer for UGVs to reduce development, production and sustainment costs, while providing maximum flexibility for commanders," Zinecker said. "SMSS continues to demonstrate its readiness to move into the next phase of the Army's UGV road map."