Prototype Type-X under construction, June 2020
In April last year, the Estonian company Milrem Robotics first spoke about the development of the Type-X multipurpose robotic complex. In the future, they showed a prototype under construction, and now it is reported about the beginning of factory sea trials of the base platform. In the near future, new stages of testing should be expected, incl. using combat equipment.
The development company announced the start of testing an experienced RTK on January 7. The official press release provided general information about the tasks and progress of the project, the main technical features of the complex, etc. A short video has also been posted showing the highlights of the first tests.
The video captures a sand-colored prototype of the platform, which does not have any combat equipment. The product was tested on a snow-covered area and on the road. Shows movement at different speeds and turns, incl. in place. Overcoming obstacles was not demonstrated. Probably, checks of this kind have not yet been carried out and remain a matter of the future.
Prototype in a different configuration and color on testing
The development company notes in its press release that the RTK Type-X in its final form will show high off-road mobility. Such characteristics will be provided both by design features and by perfect means and control algorithms. In addition, it is planned to obtain economic benefits.
It is curious that only two months passed from the first announcement of the project to the demonstration of the prototype under construction. Already in June last year, Milrem Robotics published photos of the prototype at the assembly stage in a fairly high degree of readiness. The car was shown with and without side screens, as well as with a combat module.
At that time, the Cockerill Protected Weapons Station Gen. II (CPWS II) with a 25 mm automatic cannon. The composition of other equipment of the RTK and its compliance with the project were not specified. Outside the hull, cameras and other devices were visible, while the topic of internal equipment was left without lighting.
Before the current tests, the prototype of the platform has undergone some changes. The DBM with weapons was removed from it, and the hull changed color from green to sand. Apparently, the same prototype that was demonstrated last year was brought to the test site – after minimal changes.
In the near future, Milrem Robotics will conduct sea trials in the current configuration, and then inspections are expected with the installation of certain DBMS. How soon the tests will be completed is not specified. The development company hopes for the success of these events and the interest from potential customers.
The Type-X robotic platform is an automated tracked platform with the ability to install various equipment. First of all, it is considered as a base for promising combat vehicles with cannon and missile weapons.
The platform received an armored body with anti-bullet and anti-fragmentation protection. A hybrid diesel-electric power plant was used. The diesel engine, generator and traction motors are located in the rear of the hull, in a compartment of increased height. The nose part of the body is given under the batteries. All units are supplied with power via a single bus. Free spaces in the center are used to accommodate target equipment such as the turret of the DBMS.
To obtain high mobility, a chassis with seven road wheels on an individual suspension is used. A rubber track with developed cushions has been developed; the gearing of the driving wheel is pinned. The estimated maximum speed is 80 km / h.
Day and night cameras are installed along the perimeter of the building, providing an all-round view of the area. To track the road, along with cameras, lidars installed in the front of the vehicle are used. Data from all such means go to a computing system, which is responsible for creating a map of the area and generating commands for movement.
The electronic components of the platform are designed according to the block principle. The ability to quickly replace individual blocks is provided, which speeds up the repair of equipment, and also simplifies the process of its modernization, including the introduction of new components. The software for electronics is made using artificial intelligence elements that efficiently process incoming data.
Depending on the task at hand, Type-X can move completely independently along a completely prescribed route or along specified points. A semi-automatic remote control mode is also provided, in which the platform independently determines how to execute the operator’s commands. By fine-tuning and improving the controls, it is planned to provide full-fledged work in the entire range of speeds.
The Type-X product is approx. 6 m and a height of 2.2 m. The curb weight of the platform is 12 tons, the carrying capacity is 3 tons. All this allows the platform to be equipped with various DBMS, incl. with artillery weapons. At the same time, as it is constantly noted, the finished combat vehicle turns out to be several times lighter than modern armored vehicles with a crew.
Expectations and Challenges
The developer company positions the Type-X platform as the basis for the construction of armored vehicles with different combat modules and, accordingly, with different combat capabilities. According to calculations, it is possible to use a DBM with a gun with a caliber of 25 to 50 mm. It is possible to use several types of missile systems.
It is believed that the RTK of the future Type-X family will be able to solve the tasks of reconnaissance and fire support for the infantry, as well as patrol and accompany the convoys. Depending on the situation, the complex should work independently or in conjunction with “manned” armored vehicles or infantry. An armored vehicle of this kind should interest the army and it is expected that it has every chance of entering service.
However, not everything is so simple. At the moment, the Milrem Type-X project has only reached sea trials of an experimental platform. The development company will have to check the operation of all major systems, from the hybrid power plant to the controls, as well as correct possible design flaws. How long this fine-tuning will take is unclear, but it is obvious that the project has the most serious goals, and their achievement will not be easy.
The next stage of the project is the integration of combat modules. The experimental Type-X platform has already been shown with the CPWS II DBM, but it is not yet clear whether the full interaction of these products is ensured. The integration and development process will take some time. The same applies to the announced possibilities for the installation of other modern combat modules.
Variant of a promising armored vehicle on the Type-X platform
Previously, it was argued that the Type-X platform can be used in non-military projects. The possibility of creating a fire-fighting modification or equipment for forestry is being considered. As in the case of combat vehicles, the necessary modules and superstructures will be placed on a unified chassis – and their integration is also associated with the cost of time and effort.
With the beginning of sea trials in the history of the Type-X project, the most crucial period begins. During the current tests, Milrem Robotics will have to work out the key components and functions of the robotic complex, without which it will not be possible to solve all the tasks. The result of the current work should be a multi-purpose tracked platform with a full-fledged autonomous control system.
Successful completion of work on the platform will allow the development of the project to continue and to create a family of armored vehicles with different functions and capabilities. Failure at the current stage can lead to the most sad consequences – the lack of previously announced results will hit the reputation of Type-X and dramatically reduce the commercial prospects of the project.
Apparently, the developer company understands such risks, but remains optimistic and continues to work. The future results of the Milrem Type-X project are still in question, and current successes indicate that its progress is worth watching. At the moment, Type-X is one of the most interesting projects in its field.