Rheinmetall to supply Japan with its first fleet of autonomous vehicles.

Rheinmetall will deliver three Mission Master SP vehicles to Japan in January 2025. The Mission Master SP will be the first autonomous vehicle to be tested by the Japanese army. The contract will be delivered in partnership with Marubeni Aerospace.

Rheinmetall paves the way for autonomous Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) in Japan after being awarded a multimillion-dollar contract on behalf of the Japanese Ministry of Defence.

The Rheinmetall Mission Master SP UGVs are expected to be delivered early next year for testing. These compact, low-signature electric UGVs will each be equipped with different payload modules, including cargo, surveillance and a remote-controlled weapon station. The contract also includes a long-term support and training program, as well as spare parts.

Rheinmetall will deliver the UGVs in collaboration with the prime contractor Marubeni Aerospace, a major Japanese business conglomerate that will be trained by Rheinmetall to offer local support to the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.

Rheinmetall Mission Master SP

The Rheinmetall Mission Master SP is a fully electric, compact UGV that is designed to autonomously carry out missions such as forward and last mile resupply missions, silent watch operations, and carriages of light payloads, including section sensors and weapon systems.

The vehicle can be towed or deployed by parachute to carry out missions in hard-to-reach terrain, and fitted with tracks to enhance mobility in deep snow and mud—an ideal feature for countries with extreme climates like Japan.

The Mission Master SP was the first UGV to be developed by Rheinmetall Canada in 2017 and has since been deployed during multiple live military exercises by land forces, including the German, USA, Royal Dutch, and Polish armies. Various NATO partners, such as the UK and the USA have also acquired this UGV.

Autonomous solutions for the modern battlefield

Like other platforms in the Rheinmetall Mission Master family, the SP vehicle is driven by Rheinmetall PATH: an AI-powered navigation system that can be installed on any vehicle. This agnostic suite of advanced sensors and perception algorithms enables the Mission Master vehicles to navigate autonomously through challenging environments.

“As international tensions continue to rise, more and more countries are seeking autonomous solutions to maintain a competitive advantage and prepare for the modern battlefield. Our Mission Master vehicles equipped with our PATH A-kit have performed well in numerous international trials in recent years. These experiences have allowed us to refine our technology and become an internationally renowned centre of excellence for UGVs,” recounted Pietro Mazzei, President and CEO at Rheinmetall Canada.