The Australian government supports research into the application of technologies such as the 5G cellular standard and the Internet of Things (IOT). In a competitive program, companies are to develop and demonstrate solutions by 2023 that benefit from the use of the technologies. This is to create the core for the faster expansion of 5G-supported capabilities, as the government announced on its communications page. One of the 19 companies selected in the first round was Rheinmetall Defense Australia, which had applied with an autonomous / remote-controlled fire fighting tank.
In this project, which is funded with the equivalent of EUR 930,000, the use of low-band 5G to support the remote control of these vehicles over long distances is being investigated.
The focus of the project is on examining the feasibility of this technology and developing a 5G range extension for drones.
In the Advanced Firefighting Concept (AFC), Rheinmetall is developing autonomous vehicles that can fight bush fires in extreme environments. “The AFC is based on the Bundeswehr's marten platform and aims to reduce the risk to the firefighters on the front line. It was developed after the 2019/20 bush fires, ”said Gary Stewart, Managing Director of Rheinmetall Defense Australia, explaining the project.
During the conversion, a fire-fighting cannon and a tank with fire extinguishing agents were integrated into the armored personnel carrier chassis. The engine has been adapted for operation in hot areas with fires. Above all, a digital remote control was installed with which all functions of the vehicle - forward / reverse, steering, use of the fire extinguisher - can be controlled. Cameras transmit the images from the location of the vehicle and enable the use of the fire extinguisher and can be used as a basis for deploying forces in the area.
„Damit ist das Feuerwehrfahrzeug in der Lage, gefährliches Terrain zu durchqueren, um Rettungs-, Räumungs- und Brandbekämpfungseinsätze über Entfernungen von mehr als 100 Kilometern zu unterstützen“, sagte Stewart.
For a stable communication link, Rheinmetall, with the support of the telecommunications company Telstra, wants to use an unmanned aircraft as a communication relay, which will set up a 5G network for the detached fire engine.
The fire extinguishing vehicle, remotely controlled via a 5G network, will in future overcome areas at risk from fire and carry out fire extinguishing operations up to 100 km away and transmit information on conducting operations and assessing damage without endangering personnel.
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