An NREC-led team delivered technical breakthroughs in mobility, mission endurance and payload fraction with the development of Spinner an unmanned ground vehicle. DARPA created the Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicle (UGCV) program and resulting prototypes demonstrate advanced configurations and technology that are applicable to the US Army’s UGV design programs. NREC tested Spinner, a highly durable, invertible, six-wheel-drive, hybrid-powered vehicle that responds to the need of a UGCV to surmount challenging terrain obstacles.
The next generation of autonomous military vehicles must have an extraordinary capability to surmount terrain obstacles. Resilience, or a vehicle’s ability to withstand considerable abuse during a mission and continue, became a key driver as the UGCV program evolved.
Spinner’s demonstrated performance during two years of intense testing in extremely rugged terrain exceeded these metrics. Despite its large size, Spinner is very stealthy due to its low profile and quiet hybrid operation.
Spinner met or exceeded the performance objectives set by DARPA:
- Obstacle capability (1m+ positive, 2m negative, 35 slopes)
- Resilience (withstand abusive use while remaining lightweight)
- Endurance (14-day missions; 450 km range without refueling)
- Payload Fraction (>25% of gross vehicle weight)
Overall, Spinner has traveled hundreds of miles on varied off-road terrains while under automated guidance, as well as under direct human control. Results continue to indicate that many of the technologies and approaches used in Spinner are viable options for UGVs in the future.