Eurosatory 2024 – SUGV 325, a new manportable modular robot by Teledyne FLIR Defense

Paolo Valpolini

Teledyne FLIR Defense adds a new UGV to its portfolio, with the SUGV 325, the lightest modular robot of the series, capable to host a wide array of sensors and manipulators

Produced in hundreds, the SUGV 310 has for over a decade the Teledyne FLIR Defense champion in the small unmanned ground vehicles (SUGVs) category, sold to many US and export customers, and extensively used downrange. “We developed the SUGV 310 in 2009, and since technology has progressed new things are possible. Moreover, we had a lot of feedback from our customers, and we put those lessons learned to fruition in developing our new SUGV,” Nate Winn, Director of Product Management for Unmanned Systems, Teledyne FLIR Defense, tells EDR On-Line.

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The new SUGV 325 is being officially launched at Eurosatory 2024 and is a look alike of its predecessor, a tracked platform with front flippers allowing maximum mobility even on rough terrains and in urban situations. Electrically powered, the platform has an 8.1 kg mass without batteries, 9.1 kg in the lightest configuration without accessories. This makes it easily manpackable allowing operators to carry it on mission and deploy it when needed even when not operating close to vehicles.

New technologies allowed Teledyne FLIR Defense to consistently improve the SUGV 325 situational awareness suite compared to that of the 310. “Our new SUGV is fitted with a High Definition day camera, a Long Wave InfraRed uncooled camera, stitched cameras providing all-round view without moving the robot, a two-way audio system has also been added that makes the SUGV 325 the eyes and ears of the operator,” Nate Winn, a former US Marines Sergeant who operated in Afghanistan, explains. A white light and a Near InfraRed illumination sources are also fitted.

The new Teledyne FLIR Defense unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) is part of the Wave Relay mobile ad hoc network (MANET) and constitutes one of its nodes, the other being additional UGVs, operators and observers. The SUGV 325 operator controls the UGV via the uPoint Multi-Robot Control System, based on a ruggedised tablet with touch-screen.

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The UGV electrical motors are powered by two batteries, runtime depending on the type of battery used; with two BB-2557 batteries the SUGV operates up to 4 hours, while with the more capable BB-2590 that time is doubled.

Compared to the SUGV 310 its mobility has been improved; speed is increased from 10 to 11.3 km/h, it can climb vertical slopes of 45° (versus 40°) as well as 45° stairs (versus 38°), zero turn radius being ensured by the tracked configuration. Movement on 30° side slopes and the capacity to overcome 305 mm high vertical obstacles remain unchanged.

The IOP-compliant payload open architecture allows accommodating a wide range of payloads and accessories. Among those the SUGV 325 can host a five degrees of freedom manipulator capable to lift up to 9.1 kg at the arm minimum extension, at 0.7 metres maximum extension the load is 3.6 kg. A 30x Zoom Mission Module is available; this can be fitted to the arm, “which allows to lift it at 0.9 metres height, enough to look over a table, a lesson learned from our customers,” Nate Winn adds. For reconnaissance missions where low profile is a priority, the module can be fitted directly to the UGV; “currently it is fixed on the chassis therefore to obtain a pan and tilt capability we use the robot movement itself, with tracks and flippers, however we are considering a light and simple pan and tilt platform,” the company representative explained to EDR On-Line, adding that the company is continuing developing new payloads.

The mission module adapter currently used to fit the aforementioned Zoom module allows other mission modules to be mounted directly to the chassis. Among those we can find several systems dedicated to numerous military applications such as surveillance and reconnaissance, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), and remote Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) inspection. The SUGV 325 payload is nearly 16 kg, a plug allowing to provide power to payloads; should these need more power, it is possible to add two further BB-2590 batteries.

“We are considering using our SUGV 325 as a base for smaller systems, and we are currently developing a carrier/launch module for our Black Hornet 4 micro-UAS,” Nate Winn unveils.

Lessons learned from SUGV 310 users were not only related to the robot itself, but also to the controller. “This led us to update our uPoint Multi-Robot Control System, which is now scalable as the software can be installed on different types of ruggedised Android devices, depending on users’ needs,” Director of Product Management for Unmanned Systems, Teledyne FLIR Defense, tells EDR On-Line. In the case of the SUGV 325 used as a base for the Black Hornet 4 the latter controller based on a 7-inch tablet will be able to control both the UGV and the UAS, offering maximum flexibility to the user.

The SUGV 325 development is finished, the configuration frozen, “and we are in transition to manufacturing, the aim being to start Low-Rate Initial Production in early 2025,” Nate Winn concludes, adding that “we have started pretty serious conversations with potential customers, and we are using the Eurosatory event to start global engagements.

Photos courtesy Teledyne FLIR and P. Valpolini