CSIR unveils demonstrator vehicle


The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has developed a light tactical vehicle demonstrator to test weapons and equipment.

The Landward Technology Demonstrator (LDT), based on a Mercedes G-Class vehicle, was displayed for the first time at the recent Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition. It has been used to test equipment such as 60 and 81 mm mortars as well as optronics and weapon aiming systems. It was fitted with a 107 mm Chinese rocket launcher at AAD but various weapons can be fitted such as mortars, a recoilless rifle, grenade launcher and machineguns.

Although the vehicle can be produced and manufactured, the purpose behind it was to test technologies and equipment. The CSIR has in total produced three vehicles, including two evaluated by French airborne forces a while back, with one being used by the Gerotek vehicle testing facility outside Pretoria.The CSIR could produce the vehicle using the G-Class chassis but other chassis and driveline options are available, such as the Toyota Land Cruiser series.

The vehicle on display at AAD featured a complete upper body redesign include a rollover protection system weighing 136 kg. Aluminium body panels are used to save weight but steel and composites could be fitted. The windscreen can accept ballistic glass and folds forward onto the bonnet.

The CSIR said it is developing an autonomous system that will be fitted to the vehicle. The system that is able to carry out real time path planning and navigation in the absence of global location information such as a GPS, by using technology like cameras and inertial navigation. Current autonomous navigation systems rely on GPS, radio and satellites to navigate, which are problematic indoors.
“We want to allow our major stakeholder, the South African National Defence Force, to physically experience the impact of various defence-related technologies that have been and will be developed at the CSIR. This includes technologies to enhance mobility, firepower and protection, soldier systems, autonomous vehicle systems and other research,” said Deon Malherbe, chief designer of the LTD at the CSIR.
“The LTD gives our stakeholders the opportunity to drive ina vehicle that is actually outfitted with these systems.”

A CSIR publication noted that the mobility platform for the LTD has already been commissioned and various technologies that are in the pipeline will be fitted onto the vehicle in the next three to five years for testing and demonstration.

Technologies that could be fitted to the LTD could include CSIR camouflage research, protection and firepower research (including augmented reality displays) and unmanned vehicle research technologies.
“To be clear, this is not a vehicle designed to replace any vehicles in the South African National Defence Force fleet; nor does it compete with industry in terms of being a military vehicle in and of itself. It is primarily a mobile laboratory to evaluate, demonstrate and leverage technologies developed as a result of applied research in protectionand firepower systems, soldier systems unmanned systemsand various aspects of mobility,” the CSIR said.