The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) played a significant role in a recent event geared toward introducing innovative methods of protecting Soldiers during ground combat.
The XVIII Airborne Corps and 20th Engineer Brigade organized and hosted the Sandhills Future Breaching Experiment at Fort Liberty, North Carolina, in December 2023, to discuss integrating robotic and autonomous technologies to breach complex minefields and obstacle belts more safely and effectively.
About 50 government and industry organizations participated in the event, demonstrating current breaching capabilities and highlighting gaps for future experimentation. ERDC supplied and piloted multiple Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), which were used to characterize and locate complex obstacles during the experiment.
ERDC also provided a tracked robotic ground vehicle demonstrator equipped with a Mine Clearing Line Charge and delivered the Virtual Autonomous Navigation Environment – Remote Breaching Simulator (VANE-RBS), a digital simulation tool to help combat engineers gain experience in a synthetic training environment related to remote breaching operations.
Plans include exploring experimentation opportunities to inform continuous transformation at Combat Training Centers (CTC), which will inform the Army’s Human Machine Integration initiative regarding Combat Engineer capability needs.