Two Companies Share $400 Million Army Robot Development Contract

Two companies will share in a nearly half-billion-dollar contract for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of one the Army’s three future ground robot programs of record.

QinetiQ North America and Endeavor Robotics were selected as suppliers for the EMD phase of the Common Robotic System (Individual) (CRS-I) program under a $429 million hybrid contract for two indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contracts lasting 10 months.

By 2025, the Army sees ground troops conducting foot patrols in urban terrain with robots—called Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport vehicles—that carry rucksacks and other equipment. Unmanned aircraft could serve as spotters, according to the Army’s new strategy for robotic and autonomous systems. They could also deliver cargo, reducing reliance on rotary-wing support and facilitating sustainment. (U.S. Army image)

By 2025, the Army sees ground troops conducting foot patrols in urban terrain with robots—called Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport vehicles—that carry rucksacks and other equipment. Unmanned aircraft could serve as spotters, according to the Army’s new strategy for robotic and autonomous systems. They could also deliver cargo, reducing reliance on rotary-wing support and facilitating sustainment. (U.S. Army image)

For CRS(I) Increment 1, the Army wants a man-portable ground robot that weighs less than 25 pounds including the mobile platform and Operator Control Unit (OCU).  It is intended to enhance maneuver and force protection for dismounted Warfighters by providing a highly mobile and modular capability that can be readily reconfigured for multiple mission roles by adding or removing sensors, modules, mission payloads and subsystems, according to the Army.

Each company will deliver two run-off test robots for the Army to test, according to the contract announcement. During EMD, both contractors also will deliver seven CRS-I systems and eight production-representative robots to support additional testing. They will provide support for system interoperability conformance testing, early security control assessment and cyber penetration testing.

Once EMD is complete, the government will evaluate the results of the run-off test along with revised price proposals to determine which contractor will be awarded a low-rate initial production (LRIP) contract and convert its multiple award contract to a single award.

LRIP should last about 24 months and include purchase of 325 systems for testing, according to Army documents. Following a full-rate production decision, the Army plans to buy up to 3,258 individual robots.

As a result of rapid fielding to fulfill urgent needs in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has about 4,000 non-standard ground robots that have little or no commonality. The service wants to jettison about half of those robots and move to a set of standardized robots in three programs of record. Other than CRS-I, they include the Man-Transportable Robotic System Increment II and the Common Robotic System (Heavy) (CRS-H).





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