The sad truth is that conflict has a long history of breeding innovation. It’s safe to say that many of the advancements in aerospace, electronics, medical treatments and transportation are in fact the byproducts of war.
Entering this time-honored and dubious collective is an uncrewed ground vehicle, or UGV, from Ukraine-based Temerland. Dubbed the GNOM, the two-square-foot, all-terrain, remote-controlled, lithium-ion battery-powered unit is being used to support ground troops in the war with Russia.
While the unit can be embedded with a GPS system that allows for autonomous operation, the GNOM’s notoriety has grown from not being as susceptible to the frequency jamming countermeasures that have impacted drone use during the Russian invasion. This stems from the spool of wear-resistant fiber optic cable it spools out behind it, enabling more reliable control and communication.
The 110-pound GNOMs offer a number of applications, including the ability to deliver ammunition and supplies, as well as collecting and sharing data via a survey camera mounted to a telescopic mast that can record images from up to 3 miles away.
It can also be used to boost communication transmission capabilities and work as a sort of ground-based satellite in sharing and dispersing information from larger weapons systems or networks.
However, the application that’s getting the most attention, of course, is the mounting of a 7.62 mm machine gun.
While remote controls for guns or wheeled devices are not new, the combination of the two in a combat environment is, well, innovative.
The biggest concern, and area of interest to military leaders around the globe, is how to utilize these armed UGVs alongside troops. There’s also the need to dedicate personnel to operating the device and properly fire its weapon.
Although not very successful, their military experimented with robotic tanks before World War II. And in 2018 the Russian military claimed to have deployed robotic tanks in Syria, although a high-level researcher later stated that the vehicles were unable to match the operations of manned tanks.
Ideally, the lessons learned in Ukraine can one day be utilized in providing support for law enforcement, disaster relief, and transporting medical supplies.