The U.S. Army has awarded a five year contract worth up to $280 million to supply up to 3,000 small robotic vehicles, designed to combat IEDs and clear caves and buildings in combat areas. The contract is part of the Army’s response to a Joint Urgent Operational Needs Statement from commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army requires thousands such robots, weighing less than 50 pounds each to assist troops to clear objectives in urban areas and combat IEDs.
Robotic FX is the new Negotiator, a 45 pound platform, sofar used by law enforcement units. The robot is equipped with a manipulator arm, multiple lighting LEDs and cameras, and offers high mobility and maneuverability over rough terrain. The Army is already operating over 4,000 small robots; among these about a thousand are the PacBot types, made by iRobot which also competed for the same contract. The new contract represent the military’s intention to widen its supplier base, therefore increasing pace such robots are produced and fielded.