BAE Systems' new UGV seeks to take soldiers out of harm's way



BAE Systems’ new UGV, called Ironclad, is designed to ultimately take soldiers out of certain dangerous situations by taking on dangerous jobs that they have traditionally been tasked with.

​It will do this, in large part, thanks to its versatility, as the UGV can be fitted to conduct reconnaissance, combat and casualty evacuation missions.

Small enough to operate within tight urban environments, Ironclad still maintains the mobility necessary to handle extreme cross-country terrain.

Craig Fennell, Future Programmes Director at BAE Systems Land (UK), says that the UGV is built to operate on what future battlefields might look like.
“Ironclad – while being a product in its own right – is also a step towards the battlefield of the future where we expect fleets of unmanned air and ground vehicles to work together, sharing situational awareness and pursuing combat objectives,” Fennell says.

“There will always be a human in the loop, but increasing use of autonomy and unmanned vehicles means they can focus on key decisions and have more options to avoid putting people in dangerous situations.”

Fennell says that the UGV has a unique set of capabilities. It offers near silent running up to a 50km range, thanks to its high endurance battery power, and it will come with a set of mission systems that can be swiftly changed in the field.

Thanks to a “modular connection system,” two vehicles can be connected together to handle extra loads, like a specialized stretcher. To increase mission survivability, the UGV is also protected against blast and small arms fire.

Fennel says that the next step for the UGV is to “act autonomously as part of a battlegroup, interacting with other vehicles and ground troops to follow mission objectives.”

This capability is being tested on existing vehicles as the technology is developed.

Each UGV is built with a “hardware interface” that allows different mission fits to be easily attached.

This connection “supplies both power and command from the main vehicle chassis,” which is the location of the battery and a two-way remote control unit.

According to BAE Systems, the chassis is designed so that “hardware needed for autonomous capability can be added at a later stage.”