The European Defence Agency (EDA) has launched a new project, Combat Unmanned Ground Systems (CUGS), to develop highly autonomous combat unmanned ground systems. This is the largest Research and Technology project initiated by the EDA, bringing together nine member states and 28 European industry partners with a budget of €35.5 million and running for 36 months.
The aim of the project is to define, design, and develop functional modules that can be mounted onto existing platforms, such as mid-sized platforms Themis and Wiesel, and large-sized platforms Type X, Lince 2 VTLM, and Patria AMV. These modules will ensure autonomous navigation, command, control, communications, and cooperation, as well as the use of weapon systems.
The project will run across three phases, starting with developing the requirements and standard-based system architecture of the full CUGS demonstrator for both the current autonomous platforms and future modules. The second phase will involve the adaptation of the five existing platforms in parallel with the development of combat functional modules. In the final phase, the adapted unmanned ground systems will be tested and evaluated individually and in a cooperative way in relevant environments.
The project will contribute to identifying the adequate level of autonomy for autonomous weapon systems with humans on the loop and to test relevant features in Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) demonstrators. The decision to take lethal actions on targets will remain a human decision, following the European Parliament “Resolution on autonomous weapon systems (2018/2752(RSP)).”
The consortium is led by Italy’s Leonardo and includes other consortium members such as Iveco, Larimart, and MBDA IT, John Cockerill Defence, FN Herstal, and the Royal Military Academy of Belgium, Diehl Defence, KMW, MBDA DE, and Rheinmetall of Germany, Milrem Robotics and the Estonian Military Academy of Estonia, Patria and Bittium of Finland, Nexter, Safran, Thales, MBDA FR, and Arquus of France, TNO, Demcon, and NCIM of the Netherlands, Kongsberg, and FFI of Norway, and WAT, PIAP, ZMT, and ASW of Poland.
The CUGS project is a pan-European consortium that will adapt European platforms for highly autonomous combat unmanned ground systems. These systems will play an increased role in future Armed Forces by bringing faster manoeuvrability and more efficient and precise lethal and non-lethal effects, enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of land systems, and ensuring an advantage over the adversary. The project is co-funded by Member States, and additional participants can opt in.