Saturday, July 26, 2008

Australian Robotic Weapon Platform

FireStorm Weapon System on iRobot Vehicle Metal Storm have displayed their high speed mortar on a military PacBot robot from an iRobot. The Metal Storm gun is electrically fired, with a minimum of moving parts, making it a good match for a robot. However, a cluster of off the shelf single shot, electrically primed mortars would be almost as effective, a lot cheaper and able to be fielded without years of development.

MetalStorm's FireStorm four barrel 40mm system has four rounds in each barrel , giving 14 shots total. The platform has electric motors to rotated and elevate the system. However, the iRobot itself can rotate using differential steering of the tracks and and elevate using a scissor action of the “flippers” (axillary tracks). So a much simpler arrangement would be possible using sixteen one shot 40mm grenade barrels fixed on the robot platform, using ammunition of the M203, or similar and aimed using the tracks.

Also the MetalStorm people need to keep in mind that they are just a programing change away from breaching the land mine treaty. A robotic mortar which fires automatically, without human intervention, would technically be a land mine and so illegal.

Payload weight, reliability and the ability to render the weapon harmless are critical requirements when arming unmanned robotic platforms and systems. In addition to meeting weight restrictions, the weapon system cannot be permitted to jam or need manual intervention or the mission may be jeopardised. Also if the weapon is captured it should not be capable of being fired back at friendly forces.

Metal Storm has unique characteristics that make it ideally suited to unmanned air or ground robotic platforms. In particular it has the following features:

  • Extremely lightweight
  • No moving parts (no jamming)
  • Precision firing rates - single shot to rapid burst automatic
  • Selectable munitions; lethal, non lethal, marker rounds
  • Low velocity or medium velocity mitigating recoil for smaller lightweight UAVs or platforms
  • High velocity for larger UAVs or robotic platforms
  • Electronic fire control and sighting integrates with UAV or robotic platform electronics
  • Weapon is rendered harmless if captured as fire control system is locked out.

Small robotic platforms can carry single or multi-barrel Metal Storm weapons that can be attached to existing structures (such as a robotic arm or wing), or can be integrated with specialised mounts that can target independently of the movement and direction of travel of the robotic platform.

Metal Storm has already conducted live firings from several robotic platforms including the Dragonfly rotary wing UAV, the iRobot Warrior UGV and the Talon UGV. ...

From: Unmanned Systems/Robotic Platforms, Metal Storm

FireStorm is a lightweight multi barrel 40mm electronic weapon system that brings cutting edge solutions to the Defence, Security and Law Enforcement communities.

The system can be mounted to fixed or mobile platforms to provide mission support for operations to include:

  • Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT)
  • Reconnaissance Patrol
  • Border Patrol
  • Critical Infrastructure Protection
  • Crowd Control

FireStorm has successfully demonstrated its capabilities under separate contracts for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army. Recent demonstrations have proven the system capable of delivering High Explosive (HE) and a range of less lethal munitions. FireStorm brings the operational community a total force continuum application.

  • No Moving Parts - All Metal Storm guns have no moving parts for high reliability.
  • Safe Operation - FireStorm features a number of mechanical and electrical interlocks making it one of the safest guns to operate.
  • Cost Effective - FireStorm is inexpensive to acquire, use and maintain.
  • Plug & Play Operation - FireStorm requires only DC power and an ethernet connection for operations.
  • Unattended All Weather Operation - FireStorm is environmentally sealed allowing for all-weather operations for extended periods without continuing maintenance requirements.
From: FireStorm, Metal Storm

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