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Russia to conduct final tests on Marker combat robot in 2021

Following tests, the robot will be handed over to the Russian Ministry of Defense, according to the developer

MOSCOW, June 29. /TASS/. The final testing stage of the Marker robot will take place in 2021, then the robot will be handed over to the Russian Ministry of Defense, says Oleg Martyanov, who heads the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects’ National Center for the Development of Technologies and Basic Elements of Robotics.

"We plan to conduct the final testing on tasks, given to us back in 2019, next year," he said.

"Summarizing how we managed to solve the issue of autonomy, group control, machine vision, target recognition, speed and precision of targeting, we will be ready to hand over the results of our work to the customer next year," the head of the center said.

However, the project will not stop after the final tests. According to Martyanov, the Marker will be used as a testbed for deflecting new threats; new technological solutions will be tested on this platform.

Accuracy of fire

The shooting tests of Russia’s latest Marker robotic combat platform have shown that the robot strikes targets quicker and more accurately than professional shooters, the head of the Advanced Research Fund’s National Center for the Development of Technologies and Basic Robotics Elements told TASS.

The new combat robot is also capable of distinguishing between civilians and military personnel and conducting selective fire, he said. "We are holding competitions for the speed and the accuracy of fire with professional trap shooters. We have already taught the Marker to fire not only from a sporting gun but also to hit flying discs from a Kalashnikov machine-gun many times faster than people do," he said.

The second firing test, which the robot underwent, was selective fire, he said. "This is when there are some signs in a group of 15-20 targets: an armed or an unarmed man, a serviceman or a civilian, etc. We are teaching the Marker to determine the difference and, correspondingly, fire only at the targets that pose a direct threat while skipping the objects that are found along the trajectory of fire," the Center’s head said.

Apart from flying discs, the Marker combat robot successfully copes with the task of striking small drones. Based on the technology of deep neural networks, the speed of the robot’s decision-making considerably surpasses human abilities, Martyanov said.

Smart munitions

Strike mini-drones capable of hitting targets independently and reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles will make part of Russian robotic combat systems, Oleg Martyanov told TASS on Monday.

"These are small strike drones capable of dodging obstacles and threats they encounter. They are capable of detecting the target, identifying it and striking it, if necessary," Martyanov said.

Another option involves larger drones designated for mapping, searching for and identifying targets, specifying the routes of robots’ movements and making 3D images of the terrain, he said.

Both types of drones already make organic part of the Marker robotic combat platform, the specialist specified.

Combat robots will also be supplied with smart shells capable of flying into a building in a guided mode, Martyanov said.

The strike robots are expected to be employed both on the terrain and in urban warfare. There are plans to arm these robots with smart munitions for employing them from sheltered positions in order to shield them from direct fire, he said.

For this purpose, "smart munitions need to be used: hovering and gliding munitions and smart grenades that receive the target already in the air and determine the trajectory themselves," Martyanov said.

"Simply firing a grenade launcher or a gun is today too primitive and holds no prospects," he added.

As the Center’s chief explained, smart munitions will make it possible to avoid unnecessary casualties. "We do not want the robot to destroy everything in front of it, leaving a dead zone behind it. That is why, it must be able to clearly define threats using new technologies and promptly react to them," he said.

Advanced armor

Advanced armor technologies will be used on the upcoming Marker robotic platforms, according to Oleg Martyanov. "We test armor strengthening technologies on the Marker. This technology would make vehicles much cheaper, while raising the protective capabilities," he said.

Armor elements of the Marker, according to Martyanov, will not significantly affect the mass and size of the robot.

Meanwhile, specialists also work on radio electronic protection of the robot, so that the enemy could not hack it. To that extent, the Sozvezdie JSC created a task force laboratory for advanced communications and control systems, which works on robot control amid active jamming and radio electronic suppression.

About the Marker robot

The Marker robot is a joint project of the Center and the Android Technics Scientific Production Association, the developer of the FEDOR/Skybot android. The platform is supposed to become a key element for the practice of joint operation of ground robots, unmanned aviation and Special Operations forces. The Marker innovation is positioned as a design set for the development of combat models in the future.

The main module with six independent axes of rotation is installed on the robot’s tracked platform. The module can carry two types of weapons or equipment that could be used independently.

The payload’s rotation speed is several hundreds of degrees per second, which significantly increases the speed and precision specifications.

The Marker enjoys full situational awareness about its surroundings at a distance of over one hundred meters, allowing the operator to adjust the robot’s actions on time.