US Army’s heavy floor robotic reaches full-rate manufacturing

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army’s heavy frequent floor robotic has reached full-rate manufacturing, lower than a 12 months after FLIR gained the contract to ship the system, FLIR’s vice chairman answerable for unmanned floor methods advised Defense News in an interview this month.

“We’ve progressed with the U.S. Army through all the milestones on the program and are now at full-rate production on the program. We’re building systems, we’re delivering them, there are systems out at Fort Leonard Wood right now going through training with troops and there are more systems in the pipeline to be delivered all the way through next year and further,” Tom Frost stated.

“I think what’s remarkable is how quickly the Army was able to run a program to find a very capable, large [explosive ordnance disposal] robot and then get it out to troops as quickly as they did,” he added.

The service award FLIR an Other Transaction Authority sort contract in November 2019 to offer its Kobra robotic to function its Common Robotic System-Heavy — or CRS-H. The manufacturing contract will run for a interval of 5 years and might be value as much as $109 million.

Under the present order, FLIR is delivering 34 methods, however the contract, ought to all choices be exercised, has a ceiling of roughly 350 robots.

The Army needed a system that weighs as much as 700 kilos and may carry quite a lot of sensors and payloads that assist varied missions.

Part of the explanation the Army may transfer so rapidly, Frost stated, is as a result of Kobra is a industrial product that has been out available in the market.

But the system’s strength-to-weight ratio is among the promoting factors, Frost famous. “The amount that it can lift with its arm, compared to the total weight of the system is very impressive. The mobility that it has, even though it’s such a big system and can do such heavy duty lifting and heavy duty tasks, is still nimble enough to climb up stairs and to climb into the back of an SUV for transport,” he stated.

The robotic may even climb over a jersey barrier on account of a set of flippers on the bottom.

FLIR did need to make some tweaks to make the system applicable for army use, Frost stated, and did make small adjustments primarily based on soldier suggestions.

For instance, FLIR modified the peak of the robotic’s digicam mast to enhance perspective and made it extra strong to outlive roll-overs. The firm additionally upgraded the digicam positioned on the gripper to HD-quality to offer customers with high-definition decision on objects being manipulated.

The Army and FLIR proceed to pursue totally different payloads for CRS-H. The Army required the robotic to have an open structure to permit for payloads to be built-in simply into the system.

The service is pursuing an enhanced robotics payload that will usher in new capabilities to placed on high of the CRS-H platform akin to dual-arm manipulation and superior digicam methods.

These payloads might be awarded by separate contracts, Frost stated. “We have a lot of technology that applies to those and we will compete,” he stated, “but the Army tends to select best-in-class and because of the open architecture, we can marry those things together and they can be put on our platform.”

Among FLIR’s related expertise are sensors, synthetic intelligence functionality, and robotic manipulation, Frost stated.

FLIR additionally gives the Army with a medium-sized unmanned floor car — the Man Transportable Robotic System Increment II. FLIR is delivering the Centaur UGV for that program in addition to supplying all the different companies with the identical functionality.

The firm introduced as we speak that the Army, Air Force and Navy have collectively ordered greater than 250 extra Centaur UGVs value $32 million. Over the previous 12 months, FLIR has acquired roughly $97 million for greater than 750 Centaur robots for EOD groups throughout all companies.

The Air Force is excited about a CRS-H functionality, in accordance with solicitation posted in October to Beta.Sam.Gov, a federal contracting alternatives web site.

The service needs a industrial system to satisfy EOD necessities that’s extremely cell and outfitted with a digicam system and manipulator arm with a gripper. The robotic ought to have the ability to function in all climate, terrain and environments, have a minimal 800-meter, line-of-sight radio vary, with a 3-hour runtime that may slot in a Base Response Vehicle or a Bomb Squad Emergency Response Vehicle, in accordance with the solicitation.

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