Darpa Shows Off A Beastly 12-Ton Electric Robot Tank With Glowing Eyes

hero darpa racer
The official YouTube channel for the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) unveiled a new phase of testing of its 12-ton autonomous RACER Heavy Platform (RHP) diesel hybrid. The new testing included an autonomous route, which was tested for mobility and demonstration, including sensor point cloud visualizations.

The agile and fast tank utilizes the Textron M5 base platform, which was previously developed and used in US Army campaigns of learning for robotic combat vehicle requirements and acquisition. The fourth experiment of RACER was performed by teams from the University of Washington and from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). DARPA remarked that RACER is on track to continue its autonomy development and experiment spirals with a new round of testing roughly every six months.

“Our Phase 2 off-road average autonomous speed goals are higher at lower intervention rates, and both RFVs plus now RHPs allow RACER to also show adaptability and resiliency of autonomous software at multiple, platform-agnostic ground robot scales in an array of complex, military-relevant environments,” remarked Stuart Young, RACER program manager. “As we also add tactics-based autonomy, we see all of these together as vitally important to Army and Marine needs in robotic vehicle programs of record that are closely tracking RACER, and which represent possible transition opportunities for the program.”

During testing, RACER demonstrated autonomous movement within a 15 square mile terrain area, including highly diverse ground vegetation cover, trees, bushes, rocks, slopes, obstructed ditches, and creek crossings. The autonomous tank also proved efficient during night testing with equivalent results. Making the results even more impressive was the fact the team had no prior experience with the new terrain, and they were not provided with any practice time before starting the official courses.

“RACER’s early Phase 2 activities, both with Experiment 4 performance successes in difficult, new-to-the-program, military relevant terrain in Texas, as well as recent incorporation of RHP as a fleet platform is setting the tone for the program to achieve tougher autonomous maneuver goals while showing autonomy resiliency and adaptability to new environments on any robot at any scale,” explained Young.

With a top speed of just over 25mph, this 12-ton unmanned vehicle should prove valuable to the US military. Hopefully, however, it will never be needed for battle.
Tags:  robotics, Military, Darpa, tank, ev