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Rheinmetall presented the Autonomous Combat Warrior (ACW) Wiesel and demonstrated various capabilities on an off-road course in Australia. As Russell Gallagher, Chief Engineer - Research & Technology, Rheinmetall Australia, explained, the ACW Wiesel is Rheinmetall's first platform-independent autonomous vehicle. The autonomous system can be integrated into any wheeled or tracked vehicle such as trucks from the HX series, GTK Boxers and the Lynx vehicle family. The top priority is to improve the security of the soldiers.

According to Rheinmetall, the ACW Wiesel was set up in two years in collaboration with research departments of the Australian ministries of defense and economy and two Australian universities. The basis is the Wiesel 2 with an 81 kW VW diesel that drives the chain drive with four rollers on both sides via a hydromechanical torque converter.

The autonomous system allows operation in several modes. It allows manual control on site and enables remote-controlled operation. In autonomous mode, the vehicle drives programmed waypoints and can avoid obstacles in the process. The follow-on mode is also available, in which the vehicle follows a lead vehicle in convoy mode or preceding soldiers.

Autonomes Gefechtsfahrzeug ACW Wiesel vorgestellt
The autonomous combat vehicle ACW Wiesel, source: Rheinmetall

Gallagher describes the autonomous system as the brain for mapping the waypoints and managing the flow of data from the sensors. A system for controlling the engine and the gear shift is used to convert it into vehicle functions, which controls the throttle response, the brakes and the steering via Rheinmetall's own drive-by-wire system.

Systems were added to supplement the autonomy system

Autonomes Gefechtsfahrzeug ACW Wiesel vorgestellt
  • to recognize the behavior of preceding soldiers,
  • for terrain detection using computer vision and advanced LIDAR technology as well
  • to make tactical decisions based on environmental conditions,

which can all be retrofitted on the ACW Wiesel.

With the help of a crane, the complete system can be installed in the above vehicles as well as in other vehicles in a short time.

In Gallagher's assessment, the autonomous equipment featured with the ACW Wiesel is by far the most advanced autonomous infantry combat system in existence.

Editors / gwh