Project will bring new manufacturing activity to western Pennsylvania
PITTSBURGH--Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Consortium (NREC), part of the Robotics Institute in the School of Computer Science, and United Defense Industries, Inc. (UDI) have been awarded a $26.4 million system development and demonstration (SDD) contract from the U.S. Department of Defense's Joint Program Office/Robotic Systems to design, develop and produce tactical unmanned ground vehicles (TUGV) for the U.S. Marine Corps.
NREC scientists and several partners have been conducting research to enable this class of unmanned ground vehicles since 2002 through the Office of Naval Research's Future Naval Capability Program. They recently completed a highly successful prototype development program that validated their technology and included conducting mobility and scout demonstrations of their system, which is known as the Gladiator Tactical Unmanned Ground Vehicle (TUGV). In these demonstrations, the Gladiator prototype met many SDD key performance parameters, as well as other critical requirements.
In the SDD phase, the Gladiator prototype will be produced by UDI to provide the Marines' Air-Ground Task Force with a tele-operated, semi-autonomous vehicle specially designed to increase human survival by neutralizing threats and reducing risk to Marines on the ground. To this end, the unit will be equipped with remote, unmanned scout, reconnaissance, and surveillance capabilities. In addition to Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Engineering Consortium and United Defense, the development team includes General Dynamics Armaments and Technical Products, Tadiran Electronic Systems and Timoney Technologies Limited.
Gladiator will be produced at UDI's manufacturing facility in Fayette County in southwestern Pennsylvania. "The United States Congress mandated that one third of all military vehicles be unmanned by 2015," said Donald Smith, director of economic development for Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh. "We are pleased that the first major step in responding to this challenge is based on Carnegie Mellon's technology and will be manufactured in western Pennsylvania."
"United Defense is pleased that the Joint Robotics Program and the Marine Corps have selected our team to provide Marines with enhanced battlefield capability, and we are committed to leading the transition of unmanned ground vehicle technology to our troops as a force multiplier and to increase survivability," added Elmer Doty, vice president and general manager, United Defense Ground Systems Division.
"This is terrific news for our region," said U.S. Rep. John Murtha. "It continues to demonstrate Carnegie Mellon's leadership in robotics, brings a major new line of work to the United Defense plant in Fayette County and positions our region to play a strong role in manufacturing of unmanned ground vehicles, which will be used more and more by our military."
The National Robotics Engineering Consortium will lead the system development and demonstration phase of the program.
"This program is a breakthrough opportunity for ground robotics and has the potential to make a significant impact in the way demanding and perilous missions are carried out," said principal investigator, Senior Systems Scientist Dimitrios Apostolopoulos. "Going through this system development and demonstration phase with United Defense, we aim to resolve research issues on high-speed mobility, complex remote control and fielding of tactical unmanned ground vehicles."
Carnegie Mellon and United Defense plan to establish a combined program office in Pittsburgh at the National Robotics Engineering Consortium facility. Ultimately, as many as 200 Gladiator vehicles could be built for the Marine Corps at UDI's Fayette County plant.
"From a regional economic development perspective, this is a home run," said William A. Thomasmeyer, president of the National Center for Defense Robotics, an initiative of The Technology Collaborative. "The basic research was done at Carnegie Mellon. Now, this technology will be further developed and manufactured in the region as well. It is exactly the type of end-to-end opportunity that furthers western Pennsylvania's reputation as a leading center for the research, development and commercialization of next-generation mobile robotics."
Source: Eurekalert & othersLast reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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