Military photo

One of the most interesting developments at the Zhuhai 2014 arms show has been the introduction of a family of armed and support unmanned ground vehicles (UGV), demonstrating China’s deep interest in the cutting edge of robotics and war.

Sharp Claw 2

Sharp Claw 2

Sharp Claw 2 is a 1,000kg UCAV meant to serve as a robotic scout- and it carries a quadcopter, seen behind the sensor mount, to extend its information gathering capabilities, and carries a Sharp Claw 1 armed robot in its rear truck bed.

The Sharp Claw 2 is a 1 ton armored, 6X6 UGV with sensors and is capable of autonomous operations. Notably, just as the Protoss faction from the Starcraft video game franchise deploys swarms of robots from a mothership, what makes this robot so interesting is what it carries inside: at least two other unmanned systems. Akin to a “marsupial robot,” the SharpClaw 2 carries a quadcopter surveillance drone, and the Sharp Claw 1, a tracked robot that rolls off the Sharp Claw 2’s truckbed.

Sharp Claw 1

Sharp Claw 1

A Sharp Claw 1 decamps from its Sharp Claw 2 mothership, armed with a machine gun and multiple sensors. Sharp Claw 1 can run around and seek out targets by itself, but like its American cousin MAARS, still needs human permission to fire its weapon.
Sharp Claw 2 Wheel

Out you go

Sharp Claw 1 pops away from its parent Sharp Claw 2 UGV, for a bit on its own. In addition to extending its operational range, carrying the Sharp Claw 1 on Sharp Claw 2 enables it to take advantage of the Sharp Claw 2’s better sensors, and strengthen its data uplink to its human controller, who alone can fire its machine gun.

Sharp Claw 1 weighs 120kg, and resembles the Qinetq MAARS in its dual tread layout. Sharp Claw 1 can be armed with various weapons payloads such as machine guns and grenade launchers. Like MAARS, it is capable of autonomous operations such as reconnaissance and can drive into tunnels, though it currently requires a human operator.

Man repairing its tank

Mobile Platform

Crew Task Support Unmanned Mobile Platform, built by the China South Industries Group, is an autonomous robot that soldiers can command to either follow them with its cargo of ammunition and rations, or take medical casualties back to base on its own.

Crew Task Support Unmanned Mobile Platform is China’s answer to the cancelled MULE and General Dynamic’s MUTT wheeled robots. The Mobile Platform is an all terrain, six wheeled robot. It’s fully autonomous, meaning it can drive itself around battlefields and search for friendly solders, and comes along with remote and onsite human control. The manufacturer, China South Industries Group, suggests that the Mobile Platform be used for medical evacuation, ammunition transport, and border patrol.

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