Army Preparing to Field New Unmanned Ground Systems

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May 7, 2019 | Originally published by Date Line: May 7 on

The Army’s push to upgrade its ground robotics fleet is coming to fruition, according to the service.

Over the next 18 months, the Army plans to field four major platforms, Bryan McVeigh, project manager for force projection at the program executive office for combat support and combat service support, noted in an interview with National Defense.

The common robotic system-individual (CRS(I)), man transportable robotic system increment 2 and the common robotic system-heavy will make up a new family of explosive ordnance disposal robots with the same interoperability profile. Another system, the squad multipurpose equipment transport, is designed to haul equipment for dismounted soldiers.

The service has been utilizing other transaction authority agreements for its robotics initiatives to allow for prototype competitions before awarding production contracts, McVeigh said. The expanded use of OTAs was authorized in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act and are a way to cut through bureaucratic red tape.

Additionally, the Army is examining its strategy for purchasing small robots, he said. Although the chassis of robotic systems are sustainable for about 5 to 10 years, a technology refresh is required about every 5 years. Because of this, the service is considering whether it should purchase fewer systems more often, he noted.