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U.S Army Universal Remote

U.S Army Universal Remote

New Common Controller gives troops on the ground access to drones, robots, surveillance gear and critical information...

The U.S. Army has been testing a new ‘universal remote’ to give troops complete control over drones, robots and surveillance equipment, in one simple Common Controller.

The Common Controller device currently controls the Class I Unmanned Aerial System (aka the “flying beer keg“), the Multifunctional Utility/Logistics Equipment vehicle (a robotic cart) and the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (a portable, tracked bot). It can also connect to Urban Unattended Ground Sensors (U-UGS) – a network of detection sensors, similar to household alarms.

U.S Military MULE Unmanned Ground Vehicle


But the snag is that the system only works at battalion level and above, but the new Common Controller & Man packable Network Interoperability and Network Evaluation Experiment is supposed to bring sensor data from these unmanned systems to smaller units equipped with Land Warrior gear.

This would enable a Common Controller operator to send out a bot to reece a building. Once the bot found a suspect, the operator could snap a picture, send it with text information to a smaller ground unit equipped with a Land Warrior. The platoon could then quickly set up checkpoints to catch the bad guy.

Although these types of situation are never that simple in real life the experiment did demonstrate the system’s ability to pass information down to the individual soldier on the ground. Lt. Col. James McNulty, product manager for the Common Controller team, said in an Army news release the experiment proved three things:

“First, we were able to push data and imagery collected by networked sensors down to small unit leaders at the company and below level,” he said. “Second, we connected platoons and companies together and finally we were able to send data and real-time information up into the network.”

Sounds to me like the military could employ an iPhone as an interface for this system. In a previous post we featured the ‘Universal Remote’ for the iPhone – a device that gives you complete control over your household electronics. We also featured an article that actually showed the iPhone controlling a military app. With this hardware and software already out there, it seems quite logical to incorporate it into the Common Controller system – I’m sure our troops would have no problem with that!

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