Automated ground vehicles could roam the border

These sensor-packed ground drones can cross rough terrain with pinpoint accuracy.

Pegasus: Multiscope UGV

The Pegasus: Multiscope UGV.

Aerial drones get all the attention, but a new terrestrial drone named the Pegasus:Multiscope is an autonomous treaded vehicle that its makers call "the first unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) for off-road use."

A rugged ground drone makes sense. The go-anywhere UGV, which looks a little like a toy tank, is designed for applications like surveying, security, and monitoring.

The vehicle is a collaboration between Milrem, a defense contractor that specializes in military vehicle maintenance, and Leica Geosystems, which creates solutions for mapping, measurement, and surveying.

One of the most game-changing aspects of aerial drones has been infrastructure inspection. Using unmanned vehicles eliminates some of the biggest safety risks in industries like power and gas, where the need to inspect pipelines, high tension wires, and offshore rigs introduces the possibility of workplace accidents. Drones also save tons of time.

A ground-based drone has different applications, but the upshot is the same: a fleet of rolling drones can do many jobs more efficiently than a manned crew while reducing risk to personnel.

Use cases for the Pegasus:Multiscope include surveying challenging terrain for civil engineering projects or agriculture, or in hazardous areas such as near nuclear power stations or in conflict zones. The UGV's treads reduce ground pressure at any one point, allowing the vehicle, which weighs just under 2000 pounds, to traverse any type of terrain, including mud, sand or snow.

One possible use for the vehicle is automated border patrol. The vehicle can follow a pre-programmed route and detect disturbances using cameras calibrated to a 3D point cloud. Change detection can be seen within 2 to 3 cm, and thermal imaging is also available.

Unmanned vehicles are already in use by the military and on construction sites. Contractor Oshkosh Defense designs solutions to turn existing military vehicles into UGV.

The Pegasus:Multiscope can prowl along at a respectable 15-22 MPH. Because it's a treaded vehicle, it has zero turning radius. It's powered by rechargeable Li-Ion battery packs that give it ten hours of consecutive use and a pulling force of 11,000 N".

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