Force development director: Robotics strategy is a course change

April 11, 2018 at 4:25 PM

The Army's recent focus on robotics is a hard shift from past years, according to the director of force development.

While past years' budgets funded almost no robotics programs, research, development, test and engineering and procurement funds for robotics nearly doubled in the Future Years Defense Program.

Maj. Gen. John George, director of force development in the office of the Army deputy chief of staff (G-8), detailed the service's new focus on robotics today at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Ground Robotics Capabilities Conference.

The Army's robotic and autonomous systems strategy completed last March is the first of its kind, encompassing ground robots, soldier power and small unmanned aircraft systems. Only two years ago, the service did not have such a strategy and was not developing any robotics programs, he said.

The RAS strategy contains five capability objectives: increasing situational awareness; lightening the warfighter's physical and cognitive workloads; sustaining the force with increased distribution, throughput, and efficiency; facilitating movement and maneuver and increasing force protection.

George also mentioned the service's desire for a universal controller to unite ground and air systems at the battalion level and below.

Either Endeavor Robotics or QinetiQ North America will develop the Common Robotic Controller as part of the contract award for Common Robotic System (Individual), which will be carried out by one of the two companies after a prototype demonstration this year.

The universal controller would further the service's goal of implementing open-architecture software for future systems.

"As long as you meet the rules of the road, come on in," said George.

He added that the Army is continuing to divest excess and obsolete equipment to increase resources for modernization efforts.