Estonia-led consortium to develop the European standard unmanned ground system

An Estonia-led consortium and the European Commission signed a grant agreement for an integrated modular unmanned ground system, or iMUGS, a project aimed at developing the European standard unmanned ground system.

The leaders of the consortium, composed of several major European defence, communication and cybersecurity companies and high technology small and medium enterprises, are the Estonian state and its robotics company, Milrem.

The grant agreement for the €32.6 million iMUGS project will allow the consortium to begin work on the project.

The requirements for the standardized unmanned ground system have been set by seven EU member states: Estonia, the leader of the project, and Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia and Spain. The named countries are collectively financing €2 million of the €32.6 million budget.

Europe to need thousands of unmanned ground systems

“Estonia has the honour and a great responsibility taking the lead in this project as nothing on a similar scale has been conducted before. Our goal is not only making iMUGS a one-time effort, but to build it into a base project for future developments. Our long-term goal is that each of the modular systems built, will pave a way for further innovation in its field,” Martin Jõesaar, the chief of project office at the Estonian Centre for Defence Investment, said.

“iMUGS is an excellent example of cooperation in Europe: seven countries have created common requirements for a future robotic system and have a common understanding of how the system is to be deployed. The result of iMUGS will be a modular and scalable solution that will not only fill all the needs of Europe but be also deployable worldwide,” Kuldar Väärsi, the CEO of Milrem Robotics, added.

Milrem THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle used in Mali, with the Estonian Defence Forces’ soldiers during a French lead counter-terrorism operation in April 2019. The image is illustrative.

Europe is expected to need thousands of unmanned ground systems during the next 10-15 years, growing the value of the market into billions of euros. With seven participating nations and key industrial players, the unmanned ground systems developed during iMUGS is expected to become the preferred European solution for integrating into armed units, Milrem said in a statement.

The first demo planned for Q2 2021

During iMUGS, a modular and scalable architecture for hybrid manned-unmanned systems will be developed to standardise a European-wide ecosystem for aerial and ground platforms, command, control and communication equipment, sensors, payloads and algorithms.

The outcome of the project will be demonstrated in operational environments and relevant climatic conditions as part of participating member states military exercises or at separate testing events. The first demonstration is planned already for the second quarter of 2021 and will be held in Estonia, Milrem said.

iMUGS is a cooperation between 13 parties: Milrem Robotics (project coordinator), GT Cyber Technologies, Safran Electronics & Defense, NEXTER Systems, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Diehl Defence, Bittium, Insta DefSec, (Un)Manned, dotOcean, Latvijas Mobilais Telefons, GMV Aerospace and Defence and the Royal Military Academy of Belgium.

Milrem Robotics is an Estonian defence solutions provider, with a primary focus on the manufacture of unmanned ground vehicles and development of robotic warfare solutions.

Cover: Milrem’s THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle is the centre of the system to be created for the iMUGS project. Photo by Milrem.

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