The Army has selected 10 firms to participate in a new small-business cohort looking for innovative ideas to apply sensor and remote tracking capabilities for sustainment of its future fleet of Robotic Combat Vehicles (RCV).

Each company will receive $200,000 to work on their concepts over a 12-week period starting on August 3, before presenting their ideas to leaders from the Army’s Next-Generation Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team and Project Manager Maneuver Combat Systems on October 22.

Robotic Combat Vehicle Phase 1 experiment at Fort Carson in Colorado. Photo: U.S. Army.

Army officials will then select five businesses to move forward and each will receive up to $1.5 million each to continue refining concepts over another two years.

The Army selected the following small businesses for the program: Beacon Interactive Systems of Norfolk, Va., BHTechnology of Pomona, N.Y., Charles River Analytics of Cambridge, Mass., Exergi Predictive of Hugo, Minn., Hypergiant Galactic Systems of Austin, Texas, Intelligent Fusion Technology of Germantown, Md., KRTKL Inc. of San Francisco, Qualtech Systems of Rocky Hill, Conn., RoboTire of San Carlos, Calif., and SparkCognition Government Systems of Austin, Texas.

The RCV Sustainment Cohort aims to identify capabilities that will enable the robots “to stay operational in the field while reducing the mental and physical workload for soldiers,” according to the Army, with the companies expected to “develop ways to use remote troubleshooting to track RCV performance, as well as tools for predictive maintenance and projected resupply times.”

The Army has previously said it’s also interested in ideas for fusing fuel level and altitude sensor data to amend refueling requirements, the ability to remotely corroborate reported vehicle damage and identify fixes, tools to predict battery degradation, methods for prioritizing critical data for transfers made in degraded communication environments and an integrated user interface to display sustainment-related information (Defense Daily, May 6). 

The cohort is the service’s latest Special Program Awards for Required Technology Needs (SPARTN) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program which aims to bring in more non-traditional partners to work on novel challenges.

The Army also recently selected five small businesses to refine concepts for delivering a faster rate of fire for the future Extended Range Cannon Artillery system under the SPARTN SBIR Fire Faster Cohort (Defense Daily, April 16). 

“Over the last 12 months, we’ve proven that our Cohort approach works and we continue to see results for our Army mission partners,” Lt. Col. James Templin, the Army Applications Lab’s RCV Sustainment Cohort program manager, said in a statement. “The RCV Sustainment Cohort will continue to prove that our model is essential to the Army’s aggressive modernization effort, while opening opportunities for businesses with innovative tech solutions to work with the military.”

The Army is currently working with prototypes for the RCV-Light, built by Qinetiq and Pratt Miller, which is part of Oshkosh Corp. [OSK], and RCV-Medium, developed by a Textron Systems [TXT] team, with both platforms set to undergo testing in the coming months ahead of a major operational experiment in 2022.