This paper summarizes a study on refueling and rearming FCS-related vehicles in the field. In keeping with the FCS philosophy, the resupply process should be unmanned. For the purposes of the
study, a resupply (RS) system is defined as an autonomous robotic platform, which interacts with a combat vehicle (CV). The purpose of the interaction is transfer of liquid fuel and/or ammunition. The RS
may be capable of providing both the fuel and the ammunition simultaneously, or there may be separate resupply vehicles, each dedicated to one consumable. The CV may be resupplied while on-station and operational or may be taken out of service and moved to a resupply point.
The study proposed a resupply system, which consists of two RS vehicles (i.e., separate vehicles for fuel and ammunition) to refuel the CV. Four families of scenarios were considered: the RS moves to the CV ("door to door"), the RS and CV both move ("rendezvous"), the CV move the RS ("filling station"), and the CV move to a pod dropped nearby. The "door to door" scenario was rated the most feasible, with
the rendezvous scenario a close second.
The study ascertained that RS vehicles using a robotic manipulator for the transfer mechanism is based on best engineering practices and constitute a low risk design. The required level of autonomy to
accomplish resupply is teleoperation, though a mixed-initiative approach poses relatively low risk. A teleoperator or simple mixed-initiative system can be completed in 3 years, and offers significant
performance benefits. Full autonomy was determined to be too high risk, but mixed-initiative work could serve as a basis for evolving to full autonomy.
The study also considered the impact of emerging technologies on resupply. The key technical risks in ascending order of investment priority are: platform design, munitions transfer mechanism, and
human-robot interaction (HRI). The platform design and munitions transfer mechanism are lower risk than HRI, which is a relatively new aspect of system design. The key enabling technologies are range
sensing and terrain reasoning. Breakthroughs in these areas would lower the risk of full autonomy modes of operation.