The Army is moving ahead with its Robotic Combat-Light (RCV-L) program, releasing a new notice Friday detailing plans to solicit white papers in June and eventually award up to two prototype contracts for vendors to deliver four test platforms.

A draft requirements document included with Friday’s notice lays out the Army’s goal to have a light robotic vehicle intended to provide commanders a modular reconnaissance platform  capable traveling up to 25 miles per hour and carrying at least 1,200 pounds.

2018 demo of an autonomous combat vehicle as part of a DARPA’s off-road autonomy program to support the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) Autonomous Ground Resupply Mission. (Courtesy Photo: National Robotic Engineering Center)

“The RCV-L is an expendable platform designed to conduct reconnaissance, rapidly develop the situation, and provide additional time and space for future commanders,” officials wrote.

A white papers request for RCV-L will likely drop on June 17, followed by an “oral review” period with interested vendors to inform an eventual request for prototype proposals.

The Army did not specify when the proposal request would be released or when a prototype contract award is likely, but noted more details are likely to be included in the request for white papers, including information on an eventual follow-on production contract.

RCV-L is the first of three robotic vehicle efforts to get underway, with official programs for a medium and heavy variant to follow soon, as the Army looks to take advantage of industry’s investment in autonomous technologies (Defense Daily, Jan. 22).

“This platform can integrate into every brigade combat team and keep pace with every major combat platform in the Army’s inventory on both improved surfaces and during off-road maneuver,” officials wrote in the draft requirements document. “Its on-board autonomy package reduces the cognitive burden of the operator all the while maintaining an aggressive cyber defense posture to maintain both assured control and the trust of the operator.”

Officials added RCV-L will be transportable by CH-47 or C-130 aircraft and is expected to be combat ready within 15 minutes after being dropped.

The robotic vehicle is intended to be controlled by either remote control, autonomous control via waypoint navigation or in a leader-follower scenario with another vehicle.

RCV-L is also set to outfitted with a Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station – Javelin (CROWS-J).