The Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE), a DRDO lab based at Avadi near Chennai, is warming up to take two of its unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) for summer trials in the next two months.
CVRDE Director Dr P Sivakumar told Express on Friday that the UGVs -- Muntra-N designed for nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) reconnaissance and Muntra-M designed for mine detection missions -- are currently undergoing lab level trials at Avadi ahead of the summer trials.
The DRDO had exhibited Muntra-S, meant for surveillance, during the DefExpo in 2012 and the scientists say that the vehicle has already completed the desert trials successfully. Muntra stands for Mission Unmanned Tracked. Sanctioned with a seed money of `60 crore in 2007, the project consists of four vehicles, with three in the unmanned role and the fourth one in a manned mode (Muntra-B), doing the base control duties.
“Muntra-B will be common for all missions depending on the role. During the field trials, Muntra-S operated at very high temperatures in deserts. We tele-operated Muntra-S from a distance of 5 km and it tracked a tank further at a distance of 12 km. The radar has an instrumented range of 18 km. During the trials, we undertook day and night surveillance and tele-operated the vehicle back to the base as well,” Sivakumar said. Last year, the CVRDE began the integration of Muntra-M and Muntra-N with lab-level tests. The UGVs could perform in tele-operated, autonomous and manned modes.
“All vehicles are based on the battle proven BMP II class of tracked armoured vehicles. In addition to being ATVs, they have an inherent amphibious capability, thus making a UGV a highly potent and versatile unmanned platform,” he added.
How the UGV Works
To facilitate the operation of the UGVs from a distance through wireless means, a drive-by-wire system enables the control of the conventional UGV engine by electronic means. The tele-operation system enables the base vehicle operator to navigate the UGV with the help of opto-electronic sensors. Information about the obstacles and other features around the UGV is gathered by these sensors and this information is displayed at the base vehicle on ergonomically designed display systems