The BLR is an unmanned military ground vehicle prototype, designed and built by BL Advanced Ground Support Systems. It offers extreme ground mobility, coupled with drive-by-wire technology, giving the ability to remotely operate the vehicle in a loose control circuit.
Now, industrial designer Amos Boaz has been commissioned to sketch out what a civilian version of the BLR might look like. The concepts he has come up are for a variety of use cases, all capitalizing on the BLR’s excellent all-terrain ability.
Boaz sees his concepts as ideal for rough-terrain situations such as those that are often encountered in forestry works. Other possible civilian applications include firefighting, where situations can develop in rough terrain where normal vehicles cannot operate; and search and rescue, which is, by its very nature, an off-road job.
“Unmanned vehicles are a great opportunity to design something new, something different,” says Boaz. “There’s no need for a cab any more, so there’s no windscreen. This means you can have a much lower platform. The BLR is a tough tool, so it needs to deliver a strong look of power and reliability.”
Several autonomous BLRs could be virtually linked together to work as a team, with perhaps one human operator remote controlling a lead vehicle, or taking overall control in unpredictable situations.
Different BLR machines in a robotic team could be equipped for different purposes. For example, one could carry equipment, another could be fitted with a dozer foot, while a third might have more unique tools, such as a remotely manipulated arm for cutting trees.
“Today, we are at the start of an era that will totally change the way we work,” says Boaz. “Soon, a tractor operator will have to be highly skilled, as he or she will need to control a team of machines. I believe this job will be very attractive to many young people, as controlling machines in this way might be like playing a computer game.”