DOD seeks robot that can dig into its targets

RFI seeks innovative advanced technologies for autonomous underground munition

A request for information from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency brings to mind technology portrayed in the 1960s British television series the Thunderbirds, reports Graham Warwick at Aviation Week’s Ares Blog.

The RFI solicits ideas for a highly mobile vehicle for one-time use that would be delivered to targets by air for the purpose of delivering munitions to underground targets.

The technology envisioned, which would incorporate characteristics of an unmanned ground vehicle, conjures up images of the Mole, a burrowing vehicle ferried to the site of a nail-biting underground rescue in the cargo pod of Thunderbird 2, Warwick writes.

The Robotic Underground Munition (RUM), as the technology concept is known, would be able to make a soft landing from an aircraft and navigate autonomously underground. The RUM would feature passive and active defenses to enable it to survive the mission. Technology ideas offered in response to the RFI should address robotic sensors and perception, survivable underground communications, capabilities to navigate natural and man-made obstacles, and aircraft integration.

The RFI does not include specific information about possible missions objectives, but it is believed likely to serve as an alternative to bunker-buster bombs. Responses are due by April 9.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.


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