Endeavor Robotics, which recently won a U.S. Army competition to build the Man Transportable Robotic System (MTRS) Increment 2, remains tightlipped about its offering for the medium-weight unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) program.
At the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) annual meeting in Washington, D.C., company officials declined Oct. 10 to discuss their winning proposal. A sign posted at their booth says, “Honored to be awarded: MTRS Inc. 2. Details coming soon ….”
Bryan McVeigh, force projection project manager for the Army’s Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support, attributed the scarcity of information to Endeavor’s concern that one of the losing bidders could file a protest with the Government Accountability Office. The filing deadline is Oct. 17.
“I know that Endeavor has been holding off until after the protest period just to be on their safe side,” he said.
Roboteam, one of several losing bidders, expects to hear from the Army in the coming days about why it lost. After that briefing, it will decide whether to formally challenge the contract award, said Christopher Ruckman, Roboteam’s chief technology officer. The American-Israeli firm offered its new Transportable Interoperable Ground Robot (TIGR) and unveiled it at the AUSA show.
Thomas Frost, president of Massachusetts-based Endeavor, said his company might be ready to reveal details about its UGV in a few weeks.
“We have a lot of experience developing highly capable, highly rugged systems, and we’re very excited to do it again for the U.S. Army,” Frost told Defense Daily.
The Army Sept. 29 awarded Endeavor an engineering development and production contract worth up to $158.5 million. Before starting production in fiscal year 2019, the Army plans to conduct “a short engineering and manufacturing development phase to refine some key aspects of the system,” the service said. The Army intends to achieve an initial operational capability in late FY 2019 and ultimately field 1,210 systems.
MTRS Inc. 2 is designed to allow troops to find and clear landmines, unexploded ordnance and improvised explosive devices at stand-off ranges. It will also allow soldiers to deploy chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense sensors from a distance.
MTRS Inc. 2, which will weigh up to 164 pounds, is supposed to replace some of the “unique robotic systems” the Army bought to quickly equip soldiers in recent conflicts, the Army said.
The older robots “often had just one capability, used expensive, proprietary software, and required more resources for training and maintenance,” McVeigh said. “What this [new] program gives us is a common, reliable chassis that can adapt quickly and take on the role of multiple existing systems.”
Another Army UGV program, the Common Robotic System – Individual (CRS-I), is evaluating industry proposals and plans to award contracts to two companies in “early third quarter” of FY 2018, McVeigh said. Those two firms will compete in a runoff before a final winner is picked in early 2020. CRS-I is a small reconnaissance vehicle whose platform will weigh less than 25 pounds.
The Army intends to award a contract for a third UGV, the rubble-clearing Route Clearance and Integration System (RCIS), at about the same time as the CRS-I awards.