QinetiQ wins Army’s small ground robot competition

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WASHINGTON — The Army has chosen Waltham, Massachusetts-based QinetiQ North America to produce its new small ground robot following a head-to-head competition with the company’s Boston-based neighbor Endeavor Robotics.

The serviced awarded a production contract for up to $152 million to QinetiQ on March 11 for its Common Robotic System - Individual or CRS-I program, which is its first small-sized — under 25 lbs — ground robot program of record, according to an Army statement from Fort Benning, Georgia.

Ultimately follow-on contracts and options could amount to roughly $400 million for roughly 3,000 robots.

Fort Benning is the home of the Maneuver Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate’s Robotic Requirements Division and is where the capability requirements for CRS-I was born.

The Army based its decision the robot’s performance during an Engineering and Manufacturing Development run-off test at Aberdeen Test Center in October 2018.

The service wanted a ground robot that could be remotely operated, highly mobile and lightweight enough for a dismounted soldier to carry in a backpack, the statement notes.

The robot will be controlled using a universal controller capable of controlling any unmanned air or ground platforms in the future.

The robot will come with a variety of payloads and an open architecture to add future capabilities as needed.

The plan is to field the first of the CRS-I systems in fiscal year 2020.

The Army had whittled down the competition to QinetiQ and Endeavor in April 2018.

It is not known what exactly Endeavor brought to the competition as it kept its system under wraps at Association of the US Army’s annual conference in October 2018 — literally shrouding it in a case at its booth on the showroom floor.

The CRS-I award is a major step toward the Army’s push transform a hodgepodge petting zoo of 7,000 unmanned ground vehicles acquired during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to a streamlined collection of systems.

The Army plans to procure UGVs with just a few common chassis among them in small, medium and large ranges as well as a universal controller.

Published: 2019-03-14 02:16:57