Army robotics program keeps rollin' along

The Army is continuing to invest in next-generation robotic ground vehicles as part of its Future Combat Systems project.

General Dynamics Robotics Systems of Westminster, Md., recently received $50.7 million in additional funding for Autonomous Navigation System. The increase was awarded by FCS contractor Science Applications International Corp., bringing the robotics divisions' total FCS contract value to $237 million. SAIC and Boeing Co. are the lead systems integrators for FCS.

Robotic Systems is designing and manufacturing a system capable of controlling several of the 18 types of manned and unmanned ground vehicles that are part of the $107.9 billion program. FCS plans to ultimately link the ground and air weapons systems and sensors for all 18 vehicles on a common computer network.

A cool MULE

The contractor will work on vehicles including the Multi-functional Utility Logistics Equipment, or MULE, platform, the Armed Reconnaissance Vehicle and Manned Ground Vehicles.

'ANS will comprise field sensor and software solutions based on autonomous mobility technology,' said Scott Myers, president of General Dynamics Robotic Systems. Myers said the ANS system'the intelligence of FCS robotic vehicles'will advance the Army's vision of a lighter, faster future force.

The modification will fund MULE prototypes that can perform equipment transport and automated resupply. Both MULE and the ARV will be equipped with a Global Positioning System that can locate and classify objects more than 80 meters away. The vehicles also will feature the Joint Tactical Radio System, linked to the FCS computer network.

The contract modification adds risk reduction language and accelerates the insertion of FCS technologies into existing Army forces, according to officials with General Dynamics.

ANS will provide navigational, perception, path-planning and vehicle-following algorithms and the requisite on-board sensor package for autonomous mobility, according to the company.

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