Company Will Coordinate Industrial and Academic Efforts
Safran Electronics and Defense announced on 29 January that France’s defence procurement agency, the DGA, has awarded the company a science and technology project, designated Furious, intended to lay the ground work for the integration of ground-based robots in the French armed forces. Furious forms part of the French military’s Scorpion modernisation programme.
Safran will coordinate the efforts and leverage the agility of a number of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in this five year project, as well as seeking assistance and expertise from academia, reflecting the DGA’s policy of encouraging innovative partnerships between prime contractors, research organizations, SMEs and startups.
Safran successfully leveraged the close ties between robotics and drone technologies to meet the requirements of this preliminary design project. In fact, the company’s core areas of expertise – navigation, electro-optical systems and safety-critical onboard electronics – are the basic building blocks in both robotics and drone systems.
The DGA’s Furious project will involve the development of three robot demonstrators, of different sizes and with different mission profiles for a variety of environments (for example, exploring buildings, carrying loads for infantry soldiers, etc.). These demonstrators will be deployed by an infantry platoon and tested in different configurations. The largest of the three robots will be the eRider autonomous vehicle developed by Safran Electronics & Defense in partnership with Valeo and PSA. Safran has been teaming up with civil sector partners since 2013, drawing on their technologies in these areas and adapting them to the specific requirements of military operations.
Given the tight deadline (18 months for the first phase of the project), Safran is building on its experience with the Patroller Cluster and is teaming up with highly motivated and agile SMEs, namely Effidence, Technical Studio, Sominex, Kompai and 4D Virtualiz. Safran has also initiated collaboration with France’s leading robotics labs, including CNRS (the national centre for scientific research), the Pascal Institute, IRSTEA, the Mines de Paris engineering school and LORIA. Another programme participant is the “augmented soldier” chair, set up in the laboratory at the École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan in 2017.