Defence Funded Research


2024 – 2027

470 k€

In modern warfare operations, consistently 50% of all soldier deaths in action are directly related to IEDs, which make IEDs the main factor to take into consideration to render military operations safer. Hence, cleaning conflict and post-conflict areas from buried EOs, specifically IEDs and landmines, is identified as one of the most serious and urgent military problems yet to be solved.

The ambition of the BELGIAN project is to address this problem through the development of unmanned ground vehicles equipped with a semi-autonomous mobile manipulation capability, enabling the fine manipulation of dangerous objects like EOs / IEDs. Such devices will render EOD operations much safer, by keeping the human operator out of harm’s way. The innovations resulting from the project include a complete, reliable robotics solution (mission planning, deploying, monitoring) compatible with a large range of applications.

Within the BELGIAN project, it is the idea to radically change the current concept of operation in EOD operations, by introducing robotic assets with fine manipulation capability, enabling the capability to no not only detect, but also disarm EO. As precise (remote) manipulation of end effectors on mobile robots requires extreme dexterity and skills by the human operator, BELGIAN will furthermore develop Virtual Reality training & actuation tools for the robotic solution and incorporate autonomous manipulation capabilities.

In comparison to the current generation of completely remotely operated EOD vehicles, the BELGIAN solution will also provide two major advantages. First, the introduction of semi-autonomous capabilities and an intelligent human machine interface will allow also semi-expert users to handle the device, allowing for a higher efficiency of the military demining team on the terrain. Second, semi-autonomous vehicles can also operate under RF-denied conditions, which is very often the case in EO operations. This study will therefore consider activities in the following research domains:

  • Perception & environmental understanding for object manipulation
  • Precise object manipulation in unknown and unstructured environments
  • Semi-autonomous operation, enabling seamless switchover to autonomous operation in RF-denied environments
  • Advanced human-machine interaction through haptic feedback and control & the use of extended reality tools

Project Publications