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ADF trials autonomous refuelling system for heavy vehicles

The Australian Defence Force is trialling a new autonomous refuelling system in a major technological leap forward for Australian Army heavy vehicles.

The Australian Defence Force is trialling a new autonomous refuelling system in a major technological leap forward for Australian Army heavy vehicles.

The ADF is partnering with veteran-owned engineering company ECLIPS Logistics, Queensland automation company Universal Field Robots, and transport manufacturer Holmwood Highgate for the Self-Contained Tank Module, Autonomous Refuelling System (SCTM ARS) capability.

The fuel prototype (self-contained tank module with 3,400-litre capacity) is fitted with a unique slew drive, hydraulically actuated robotic arm to autonomously refuel both crewed and uncrewed systems using a dual delivery mechanism, digital fuel sensor, hose reel with manual splash fill, and advanced perception systems.

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It’s understood successful application of an autonomous refuelling system would reduce the requirement for military personnel to manually lift heavy equipment, increase refuelling speed, and enable refuelling without putting military personnel in the line of fire during combat.

The ADF will next move to additional testing for the system.

“ECLIPS Logistics teamed up with Universal Field Robots and Holmwood Highgate recently to deliver a Self-Contained Truck Module Autonomous Refuelling System to RICO (Robotic and Autonomous Systems Implementation & Coordination Office) as part of a successful technology demonstration,” according to a public statement published by ECLIPS Logistics this week.

“SCTM ARS delivers to the Australian Defence Force a unique capability that is safe, connected, self-contained, modular, reliable and efficient.

“SCTM ARS removes soldiers from the refuelling task and will allow the refuelling of robots by robots in the future.

“SCTM ARS provides an autonomous refuelling capability for the existing vehicle fleet in the Australian Defence Force and for future crewed and uncrewed combat vehicle fleets.”

Earlier this week, the Australian Army also announced that 120 military personnel had taken part in Project Convergence, a US-led campaign of learning through persistent experimentation.

The project was hosted by the United States Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Space Force, and included participants from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, and Japan from 23 February to 20 March in California, USA.

The project focuses on testing and developing networks, robotic and autonomous systems, air defence and strike related systems, with particular importance placed on the aggressively advance and integration of technology across all warfighting domains to overmatch an adversary in competition and conflict.

Colonel Casey Guidolin, director Australian Defence Force Multi-Domain Strike, said being part of Project Convergence meant the ADF could test more new and emerging technologies as a part of a coalition force.

“Project Convergence Capstone Four provided Australia with the opportunity to work closely with allies and partners to promote a stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region,” COL Guidolin said.

“The ADF continues to test and invest in new and emerging technologies through multinational activities such as Project Convergence.

“In a time of heightened competition and conflict, working with the militaries of our allies and partners ensures we can work together as an integrated force in all warfighting domains on national defence.”

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