Thursday, April 16, 2015

Army foresees a new age for robots

Army foresees a new age for robots: Soldiers will see a "new age" of ground robots, according to Army robotics managers.

Between 2019 and 2024, possible autonomous and semi-autonomous ground robots include mine-clearers, surveillance systems and supply vehicles, according to Scott Davis, program executive officer for Combat Support and Combat Service Support.

Davis, who spoke at the National Defense Industrial Association's Ground Robotics Capabilities Conference and Exhibition, said the current hodgepodge of disparate, non-interchangeable ground robots have become a sustainment burden. "During the last 10 years, the Army purchased more than 7,000 'nonstandard equipment' items such as Talon IV, Packbot 510 FASTAC, SUGV 310 mini-EOD, Dragon Runner and First Look," noted an Army news release on the conference.

The Army has just begun the Robotics Enhancement Program (REP). Davis listed several hardware and software upgrades the Army is seeking for existing robots, including "incremental hardware and software enhancements to existing systems/chassis; sensor and payload upgrades; modularity; open architecture in IOP, or, in- and out-processing software; standardization; miniaturization and light weight; and intelligent behavior."