At the AUVSI Unmanned Systems show, Polaris has announced its MRZR X robotic vehiclethat is designed to lighten the infantryman's workload. The multi-mode, connected vehicle platform is based on the firm's MRZR platform currently in use with infantry and Special Forces units globally and includes new autonomous, driver-optional capabilities.

They say that an army travels on its stomach, but wheels also help a lot. Based on advanced commercial vehicles with which 90 percent of its component share compatibility, the MRZR line are designed to be small, helicopter transportable, off-road vehicles to support infantry operations.

By using a Modular Robotic Applique Kit (M-RAK) developed by Applied Research Associates Inc. (ARA), the MRZR-X takes things a step further by combining open software with a suite of sensors and autonomy systems to create a modular support platform that can not only be configured to fit the mission, but can also be set in a number of robotic modes. These include conventional driver control, remote control, teleoperation, follow-me, leader-follower, and full autonomy.

According to Polaris, this intuitive, autonomous drive capability, combined with its high-speed drivetrain that can run silently when required makes the MRZR X suitable to act as a robotic mule, autonomous resupply vehicle, squad carrier, logistics support vehicle, rescue vehicle, or high-speed casualty ambulance.

"The MRZR is the preferred platform among infantry units and Special Forces worldwide, which helps make its integration and the transition from manned to unmanned systems easier for the warfighter," says John Olson, PhD, vice president and general manager of Polaris Government and Defense. "The MRZR X maintains the MRZR mission profile and payload our customers are accustomed to, plus it has additional robotic and networked capabilities to further support warfighters."

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