The international innovation forum Days of Innovations held last autumn, organized by the Russian Ministry of Defense, was a landmark event for enterprises of the national defense industry that presented not only mass production, but first and foremost the most advanced projects.
With all the variety of the model range, the “Udar” combat vehicle stood out in it - the development of the All-Russian Signal Research Institute from Kovrov, which is part of the High-Precision Complexes holding company. She attracted the attention of not only military experts, but also ordinary visitors.
At first glance, the product of the Kovrov Institute is a kind of hybrid of the BMP-3 infantry combat vehicle tested and tested for decades of operation with the newest remote-controlled module developed by the Tula Instrument Design Bureau and installed on the newest Kurganets BMP. But this is the most superficial impression.
"Strike" is not just a combat vehicle, but a complex robotic complex capable of solving combat missions in a wide range.
“Now it is possible for the operator to control the complex remotely, while maintaining the feasibility of quickly transferring the machine to crew mode. It is supposed to intellectualize the management of the behavior and movement of the complex, taking into account route planning, circumvention of obstacles, work in a group with UAVs. At the same time, combat missions are carried out taking into account the tactical situation and the nature of the terrain, ”Sergei Filippov, the chief designer and deputy general director of the Signal Research Institute for Scientific Research, reveals the essence of the“ Blow ”.
Signal is engaged in the development of the most complex and very important for the national defense-industrial complex of products: automated control systems, navigation and topographic location, electric and electro-hydraulic drives, hydro-volumetric transmissions, hydraulic machines, and smart electro-hydraulics.
“We began work on the creation of robotic complexes back in the 80s. It was a robot tank based on the T-72. Then the first steps were taken, therefore the steps were quite difficult for us. There was not only experience, but also a suitable element base. Nevertheless, we managed the T-72 remotely, ”recalls the head of the robotics department, Alexander Malyshev.
The latest product immediately interested the military. True, to realize most of the proposed capabilities on the existing at that time element base, alas, did not work. In particular, on tankRobot failed to remotely control full-time weapons with high efficiency.
“There was no necessary electronics, optical-electronic systems with high resolution and range. But most importantly - there were no powerful calculators. Together with co-contractors, we had to independently develop small-sized calculators, count all the mathematics for them, etc., ”Malyshev lists the problems that have arisen.
True, despite the good results achieved during the creation of the tank-robot, the project was soon stopped. 90 came, the Soviet Union collapsed, and the military department could no longer allocate the necessary funding to continue the work.
The team of the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute "Signal" even in such difficult conditions continued research in the field of creating robotic complexes. "In 90-s, we, although without funding, carried out theoretical studies, calculated algorithms, created separate components and assemblies," the head of the robotics department at the Kovrov Institute continues to recall. In 2000-x, the state order for similar products reappeared and in 2007, the first lightweight robot was created as part of the research work "Filin". “We worked on it the basics of movement, remote control, etc. Much work was done to study the method of transmitting images and commands,” notes Alexander Malyshev.
As the institute admits, when “Filin” was created, it was necessary to use foreign components for its electronic filling. But then, according to the development engineers of the Signal Research Institute, the main goal was not to create a lightweight robotic complex, but to work out technical solutions, first of all, algorithms and software that allow us to create more complex systems.
“In fact, making a platform is only part of the task. When creating a robot, it is much more difficult to combine all its systems, components and assemblies, prescribe algorithms of all levels, and develop mathematical and software. Who owns the mathematical apparatus and software is the master of the whole system, ”the head of the robotics department at the Kovrov Institute states.
After successfully working on the topic "Filin," Signal's engineers took on a more difficult task - the creation of a medium-weight robotic complex based on serial combat vehicles. This project was named “Strike”.
“Why did we choose the BMP-3? First, except for the Kurgants, it is currently the most modern infantry fighting vehicle in service with the Russian army. Secondly, in order to create from scratch a similar chassis for a robot, it will be necessary to carry out the most complicated work, which will take more than one year to complete. For the BMP-3 in the troops there are stocks of materiel, the military knows how to repair and maintain them. Yes, the "troika" - the machine is quite complicated, she has a lot of electronics. But the employees of Signal have dealt with the functioning of the components and assemblies in detail, ”says Denis Varabin, leading research engineer, sharing his impressions with Military Industrial Courier.
It is noteworthy that, at the request of the Russian military, the robotic BMP-3 should remain manual control from the driver’s standard position, which imposes serious limitations on the size of all systems and components, which also should not prevent the deployment of personnel in the troop compartment.
All electronic control units "strike" must be located inside the body of the combat vehicle, then they will not only be invulnerable to small arms fire. weapons, a blast wave and splinters, but also inaccessible for the main enemy of modern electronic systems - electromagnetic radiation. Since the BMP-3 is a machine designed for cross-country actions in adverse weather conditions, the systems and components of the “Impact” must withstand temperature fluctuations and have very high levels of vibration resistance.
“As part of a robotic platform of order 20 electronic units scattered throughout the body of the machine. Of course, we tried to minimize the weight and size characteristics so as not to occupy much space in the habitable compartments. The largest electronic unit in our country is a little more than half a meter long and weighs a couple of tens of kilograms, the smallest one - ten centimeters weighs only a few grams. All blocks are shock resistant, tested on a shaker. By the way, the armor itself of the combat vehicle partially protects from electromagnetic radiation. But in the future we plan to introduce a more serious protection against EMP, ”explains Denis Varabin.
“Employees are now working out the“ control ”algorithms for motion, video processing and“ image processing ”; they are planning to apply methods of pattern recognition and tactical environment, behavior in unfamiliar terrain. All these are quite complex algorithms, ”says the head of the robotics department, Alexander Malyshev.
In the future, according to the chief designer of the All-Russian Research Institute of Signal, Sergei Filippov, a gradual intellectualization of the control system of the Udar is supposed.
“The creators consider not just remote, the main thing is intellectual control. The easiest option: when moving, the robot will be located in areas where it is not available to the operator. The control system of the robot itself must continue to follow the route. Or, for example, a more complicated option: you can set a specific route for the robot and send it, and it will do the rest. Will move around obstacles. The team of the department seeks to create the maximum level of intellectual control, the so-called definition of behavior. The starting and ending points are set, and then the robot must choose the route itself, ”explains Malyshev.
One of the options for intelligent control is the so-called expert systems. Based on the analysis of the incoming information, they themselves make decisions by analogy with a human expert.
“Nowadays, enterprise employees create more complex algorithms, including using so-called fuzzy logic. But go to the result in stages. It is impossible to immediately do so that you give the robot a task, and he does everything himself. This, alas, is a dream to which we only aspire. The theory of artificial intelligence, although it was developed by 20 years ago, is not fully implemented. Fails But we are already working on a traffic planning system. The robot itself builds a route by points and follows it, avoiding obstacles. For example, on the road there is a pit or a stone. We cannot take into account every such obstacle - the robot must not only recognize them, but also decide how to get around it. If the obstacle is insurmountable, the robot must request the help of the operator or return to the base independently, ”says Alexander Malyshev, head of the robotics department at the Signal Research Institute.
On target without satellites
No matter how “smart” and “independent” the “Impact” control system is, without exact coordinates, without information about the machine's location in space, and this is the angle of inclination, direction of movement, etc., it will not be able to successfully complete the task.
At first glance, not such a difficult problem. It can be solved with the help of ordinary GPS navigators or GLONASS, which are now installed in any tablet computer or smartphone. But in combat conditions, the enemy is able to easily drown the signal from space by means of electronic warfare.
According to chief designer Sergey Filippov, the system created on the basis of new components not only turned out to be compact enough, but also consumes very little power, which is especially important for robotic systems.
“Now in our inertial system, a correction is provided for the satellite signal, and for the so-called inertial system setting, it takes about five to six minutes after the vehicle starts. But we are working to not only significantly reduce this time, but also to minimize satellite correction, and in the future to keep it only as a backup option in peacetime conditions, ”says Sergey Filippov.
Currently, there are several ways to correct inertial systems without satellite navigation, in particular using visual processing of the terrain, a kind of analogue used in aviation. The system recognizes objects and compares them with those stored in its memory, having known coordinates, thereby determining its current location.
“We adhere to the direction of maximizing the intellectual level of our machine. And when the “Strike” performs certain actions completely autonomously, the accuracy of the inertial system and its correction without a satellite are important. If an ordinary mechanic-driver of a combat vehicle can navigate the terrain, then the robot must do it independently, ”explains Sergey Filippov.
Robots in the ranks
“At present, the Udar research project is carried out at its own expense, but the Russian military is interested in our robotic complex. Now we are going through the stage of coordinating the technical assignment with the Ministry of Defense of Russia. The document is scheduled to be signed before the end of this year. And next we intend to protect the results of our work before a special commission, which will include representatives of various research institutes of the Ministry of Defense. After the defense, the development work will be delivered. We expect to reach the ROC by the end of next year. It should be understood that “Strike” is primarily a multifunctional robotic platform, on which, depending on the task, various equipment or weapons will be installed, ”the chief designer shares with his plans for“ Military Industrial Courier ”.
According to the requirements of the Russian military department, three types of vehicles must be built on the Udar platform: reconnaissance and percussion, engineering support and transport-evacuation vehicles.
“The development work must be completed within two years. We will carry it out step by step. First, we choose and work out one functional, after it the second, and then the third. Let's start with reconnaissance drums, ”says Sergey Filippov.
It was exactly the reconnaissance-shock "Strike" that attracted such close attention to itself that was presented by the holding company "High-precision Complexes" and the All-Russian Scientific-Research Institute "Signal" at the "Innovation Day" this year.
“To arm our robot, we currently use a module developed by the Tula Instrument Engineering Design Bureau for infantry fighting vehicles of the Kurganets family,” said Alexander Malyshev, head of the robotics department at the Signal Research Institute.
Shock reconnaissance robot will be able not only to hit the enemy with onboard weapons, but also to issue target designation for aircraft and artillery, other attack robots.
The structure of the equipment of the engineering machine on the basis of the "Stroke" will include various devices not only for dismantling blockages and eliminating damage, but also for working with explosive objects, in particular a multi-position manipulator.
The transport robot will be able to transport various property and personnel, and most importantly, to evacuate the wounded from the battlefield. As experts of the Signal Research Institute admit, the creation of a rescue robot is one of the most difficult tasks.
“A variant was proposed: the robot brings the orderlies into place, they unload and evacuate the wounded. After that, the car leaves the battlefield. But we refused such a decision. The “strike” will be equipped with an evacuation system that allows them to take the wounded on their own, without the help of orderlies, ”explains Alexander Malyshev.
It should be noted that the developed control system will allow the operator to control the actions of not one robot, but a whole robotic unit capable of solving a wide range of tasks.
True, such a management level requires sophisticated communication systems with a broad channel capable of ensuring continuous information exchange between the command center and the “fighters”, as well as real-time video transmission. “VHF channels have a good range, but low bandwidth, and on higher frequencies, on the contrary, the range is lower, but the channel is“ wider ”. We conduct research. We are considering various options, in particular, the UAV, the repeater machine, etc. Everywhere there are minuses and advantages, ”sums up Alexander Malyshev.
The All-Russian Research Institute "Signal" in a short time has created a truly unique robotic system capable of solving a wide range of tasks. Kovrov designers initially set a very high bar in front of their product. Today's results suggest that the Udar robotic complex will undoubtedly occupy a worthy place in the arsenal of the Russian army.