> our title:

France Launches Army Robot Demonstrator Program

> original title:

Armed Forces Ministry Launches Demonstrators for Tomorrow's Ground Robots

(Source: French Armed Forces Ministry; issued Jan. 29, 2018)

(Issued in French only; unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)

The largest of the three robots to be evaluated under the Furious program will be the eRider, an autonomous vehicle developed by Safran in partnership with Valeo and PSA. (Safran photo)

On 29 December 2017, the Directorate-General for Armaments (DGA) awarded a study contract aimed at preparing the future robot capabilities of army combat units to a consortium consisting of Safran Electronics & Defense and the SME Effidence.

As part of the “Furious” study, robots of different sizes, including the eRider demonstrator developed by Safran in partnership with Effidence, will be tested for area reconnaissance and equipment transport missions.

This study is called Furious from the French description of its goal: Futurs Systèmes Robotiques Innovants en tant Qu’outils Au Profit du Combattant Embarqué et Débarqué, or future innovative robot systems to assist embarked and disembarked combat soldiers.

The aim is to test three demonstrators of different sizes in an infantry section, as early as 2019, at the Urban Action Training Center (CENZUB) located in Sissonne (Aisne). Under the guidance of the DGA's Land Armament Operations Management Unit, the tests will be conducted by the robotics experts at DGA Techniques Terres de Bourges, in central France, with the support of the Army’s Technical Department (STAT).

The missions assigned to ground robots will include, in particular, area reconnaissance, exploration of buildings, and the transport of soldier equipment. The study will focus on innovative capabilities such as self-reliance by avoiding obstacles in all types of environments.

Furious will make it possible to identify the technological choices necessary in the field of ground robotics. It is also a matter of maturing the technologies used. Finally, the accumulated experience will allow to begin to define a doctrine of use of robots for the benefit of the land forces.

The DGA, thanks to such science & technology projects, encourages and directs industrial contractors towards research areas and the use of the technologies resulting in particular from innovations developed by SMEs and start-ups.

For the implementation of this contract, Safran Electronics & Defense and Effidence will rely on a dozen SMEs and French robotics laboratories, including the Research Center of the Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan Military Colleges (CREC).


Safran Chosen to Develop Three Land Robot Demonstrators for French Armed Forces

(Source: Safran Electronics & Defense; issued Jan 29, 2018)

BOULOGNE BILLANCOURT, France --- Safran Electronics & Defense has won the contract for a major French defense procurement agency DGA (Direction Générale de l'Armement) Science & Technology project, Furious. Covering a period of five years, this project is designed to lay the groundwork for the integration of land robots in French armed forces, as part of the Scorpion modernization program.

Safran will call on support from academia as well as the agility of small and medium-size enterprises (SME), to fulfill this contract, reflecting the DGA's policy of encouraging innovative partnerships between prime contractors, research organizations, SMEs and startups.

Safran Electronics & Defense was able to leverage the close ties between robotics and drone technologies to meet the requirements of this preliminary design project. In fact, the company's core areas of expertise – navigation, electro-optical systems (optronics) and safety-critical onboard electronics – are the basic building blocks in both robotics and drone systems.

The DGA's Furious project will involve the development of three robot demonstrators, of different sizes and with different mission profiles for a variety of environments (for example, exploring buildings, carrying loads for infantry soldiers, etc.). These demonstrators will be deployed by an infantry platoon and tested in different configurations. The largest of the three robots will be the eRider autonomous vehicle developed by Safran Electronics & Defense in partnership with Valeo and PSA. Safran has been teaming up with civil sector partners since 2013, drawing on their technologies in these areas and adapting them to the specific requirements of military operations.

Given the tight deadline (18 months for the first phase of the project), Safran Electronics & Defense is building on its experience with the Patroller Cluster and is teaming up with highly motivated and agile SMEs, namely Effidence, Technical Studio, Sominex, Kompai and 4D Virtualiz.

Safran also initiated a collaboration with France's leading robotics labs, including the CNRS (national center for scientific research), Pascal Institute, IRSTEA, Mines de Paris engineering school and LORIA. Another program participant is the "augmented soldier" chair, set up in the laboratory of the Ecole Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan in 2017.

Safran is an international high-technology group and tier-1 supplier of systems and equipment in the Aerospace and Defense markets. Operating worldwide, Safran has nearly 58,000 employees and generated sales of 15.8 billion euros in 2016. Safran is listed on the Euronext Paris stock exchange, and its share is part of the CAC 40 and Euro Stoxx 50 indices.

Safran Electronics & Defense is a world leader in optronics, avionics, electronics and critical software for both civil and defense applications. The company's products are deployed worldwide on more than 500 ships, 7,000 armored vehicles and 10,000 aircraft.