0 $
2,500 $
5,000 $
674 $
JULY 2020

US Orders $162 Million Worth Of Unmanned Robotic Transport Platforms

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US Orders $162 Million Worth Of Unmanned Robotic Transport Platforms

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On October 30th, the US Department of Defense announced several contracts it had concluded, and namely one for 624 small unmanned robotic multipurpose equipment transport systems, worth $162.4 million.

These are Multi-Utility Tactical Transport (MUTT) under the Small Multipurpose Equipment Transports (SMET) program.

The contract was concluded with General Dynamics Land Systems Inc. (GDLS) and deliveries are expected to begin in the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2021, with a completion date of October 29th, 2024.

The ordered unmanned transport platforms comply with the concept of the so-called “robotic mules” and are intended for the transportation of goods and equipment as part of infantry units at the squad and platoon level.

The selected MUTT platform developed by GDLS is an 8×8 wheeled vehicle with an electric hybrid drive.

US Orders $162 Million Worth Of Unmanned Robotic Transport Platforms

Click to see full-size image

US Orders $162 Million Worth Of Unmanned Robotic Transport Platforms

Click to see full-size image

US Orders $162 Million Worth Of Unmanned Robotic Transport Platforms

Click to see full-size image

US Orders $162 Million Worth Of Unmanned Robotic Transport Platforms

Click to see full-size image

US Orders $162 Million Worth Of Unmanned Robotic Transport Platforms

Click to see full-size image

US Army SMET requirements include optional human or remote control, autonomous mobility, transportation of up to 1,000 pounds (454 kg) of cargo (compartmentalized assets for 9 men), 72 hours of operation, 60 miles of power reserve, 1 kW silent power generation in movement and 3 kW in the parking lot, the ability to recharge soldiers’ equipment (walkie-talkies, night vision goggles, tablets). With full-scale production, the cost of one platform should not exceed $100 thousand.

The specifications of the MUTT platform announced by GDLS in the 8×8 version are:

  • maximum weight with a load of 3,500 pounds (1,589 kg);
  • payload mass of 1,200 pounds (545 kg);
  • length is 116 inches (2947 mm), and width of 60-70 inches (1524-1778 mm);
  • a power reserve of 60 miles (with 5 gallons of fuel);
  • remote control is provided at a range of up to 200 m with a simple one-handed remote control;
  • it is possible to provide movement on water;
US Orders $162 Million Worth Of Unmanned Robotic Transport Platforms

Click to see full-size image

GDLS also developed lighter MUTT variants with 6×6 (900 pounds load) and 4×4 (last optionally tracked, 600 pounds load) wheel configurations, but they clearly don’t fit the current requirements set out by the US Army.

In April 2017, the U.S. Army issued an industry request for an accelerated acquisition of crewless transport platforms under the Other Transaction Authority (OTA) program under the SMET program based on existing developments.

In September 2017, the first phase of testing 10 prototype platforms under the SMET program from eight manufacturers was launched in Fort Benning, Georgia. Based on their results.

In November 2017, prototypes of four suppliers were selected – MUTT from GDLS; MRZR-X Consortium Polaris Industries Inc., Applied Research Associates Inc. (ARA) and Neya Systems LLC; Hunter Wolf from HDT Global; and Grizzly RS2-H1 from a consortium of Textron Systems and Howe & Howe Technologies.

The American Robot Company, Lockheed Martin, AM General, Roboteam NA and QinetiQ North America were rejected.

In January 2019, four types passed the seven-month second phase of testing under the SMET program, each of the contractors provided 20 platforms for testing. Of these 20 prototypes of each sample, four prototypes were tested at a test center in Fort Benig, and eight units were tested in parts of the 10th Mountain and 101st Air Assault Divisions of the US Army.

Finally, the GDLS system was chosen.

Other contracts signed by the Pentagon include:

  • $62 million with Boeing Co. for performance-based logistics support for the AH-64D/E Apache Attack helicopter, and the work is to be completed on April 30th, 2024;
  • $49 million with AGCM Inc., Alliance Consulting Group Inc., PCS and MOCA JV LLC, Professional Project Services Inc., Project Time and Cost LLC and Michael Baker International Inc. for firm-fixed-price contract for architect-engineering services. The orders are not given out yet, the listed companies will compete for them;
  • BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services Inc. was awarded $69 million for indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for up to 931,200 man hours of installation and certification technical support to the Combat Integration and Identification Systems Division, Naval Air Warfare Center, Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Webster Outlying Field and Patuxent River in support of the Navy and the governments of Japan, South Korea and Australia;
  • Aircraft Readiness Alliance LLC was awarded $55 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. This is a contract for the provision of depot level maintenance services in support of the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest mission;
  • AUSTAL USA LLC, Mobile was awarded $21.5 million on top of a previously awarded contract to accomplish advance planning, material procurement and work in support of the post shakedown availability (PSA) of the littoral combat ship USS Charleston;
  • Boeing Co. was awarded another $17.6 million to its order for the performance of 27 modifications in support of the Increment 3 Block 1 retrofit requirement for P-8A aircraft for the Navy and the government of Australia;
  • Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. was awarded a $10.5 million addition for the development and delivery of an enhanced simulator database and project management support for the F-35 aircraft in support of the government of Japan;
  • Lockheed Martin Co. was awarded an additional $7.2 million for the AN/UMQ-13 Meteorological Data Station MARK IV-B System sustainment.

Approximately $80 million were awarded for various defense logistics such as transmissions, medical supplies and camouflage coveralls so that the soldiers become “invisible.”

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  • Damien C

    About as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike!

    Wouldn’t want to be needing this contraption when it is useless such as …

    First wall it comes to

    First heavy incline

    First heavy wooded area

    First swamp

    First mountain
    First Jungle
    First forest
    First assault requiring speed

    Hey! It would be really good on an airbase or military fort which is nice and flat with no obstructions and you have all day to move stuff!

    though on a modern day battle field ……. GTFOH

    • grumpy_carpenter

      Aside from the fact that making it robotic adds another layer of complexity that can break down in harsh condition plus if you have to get out in a hurry and can’t take your “mule” with you you’ve left behind some pretty nifty robotic tech that the Chinese would love to reverse engineer and sell back to you at a fraction of the cost.

      Off the shelf ATV’s are simple, proven dependable and if you leave one on the battlefield you’ve just lost a nice ride to an Arab farmer …. nothing else ….. and all that at a fraction of the cost and picking up a new one is just a drive to the dealership and a week in the paint shop instead of a huge mobilization charge from Lockmart to restart the production line.

  • Peter Jennings

    These units will come in very handy for transporting injured soldiers back behind lines for medical treatment. It may be possible to pile on 10 expendables, so it should keep the battlefield relatively free of corporate trash.

    Let’s hope Tesla haven’t supplied the batteries.

  • Brian Michael Bo Pedersen

    With the modern battlefield littered with cheap ATGM/ATW and mines, do they really think that centralising an entire squad or platoons equipment is a good idea?

    This is the most expensive way to loose every bit of gear, amm, water, food, equipment and most important: clean socks and dry sleeping bags.
    I guess thats why the US picked this solution.

    And not a word about the speed or what a realistic specsheet is during tactical/combat conditions.
    All the specs a isolated best case scenarios = Worth absolutely nothing.
    And what kind of noise does this one put out?
    In no way can you sneak around with this thing, every branch and leave under its wheel will sound like a kindergarten in a sugarfactory.

    • Peter Jennings

      I wonder what happened to the DARPA robotic donkeys?

      • Mike

        It was load of Yankee techno hype, kind of like Space X rocket that land back at its launch pad.

        • Peter Jennings

          I’m quite sure that SpaceX pulled off that feat. It was a milestone for space travel and it will probably be the best of Musk’s acheivements.

    • Pave Way IV

      These are not for use by US troops themselves – that would be dumb. These are for delivering weapons and supplies to our head-chopper ‘allies’ like al Qaeda and ISIS.

  • Jacob Wohl’s Nose

    look how Gay Rocket Nose is https://www.instagram.com/jacobawohl/?hl=en
    *WARNING* u might have to puke, eyes may burn

  • grumpy_carpenter

    This is a good idea. As a contractor doing interior finishing in big institutional building eliminating footsteps is key to making money on a job so I dedicate a lot of time to putting everything on wheels. I’m always tearing down old carts from completed jobs and making new ones for the next job.

    This is basically a self propelled cart with a small inverter generator on it. I am a believer in KISS. My solution would be build a wagon with a generator, a charging station, a microwave and coffee maker …. maybe a car stero for tunes ….. and haul it around with an ATV. A customized ATV cost $15k and the wagon could be built for $2-3k and in addition to getting a “mule” you get your infantry mounted on an ATV for under $20 k a unit. There are already EV ATV’s on the market if noise is an issue ….. you could probably make a high torque low speed EV ATV that could pull large loads without much extra cost.

    Of course the MIC’s solution is to make it robotic for absolutely no practical reason and to design it from the bottom up instead of using off the shelf solutions which drives the cost into the stratosphere …. not just for the initial purchase but for replacement parts and consumables, like ” military grade lubricants”. I’ll bet the tires have a useless military spec and cost in the thousands each. They probably comes with a “unique military grade” air filler valve that needs a unique “military grade” air compressor and hose costing in the low $hundred thousands to pump up the tires.

  • Assad must stay (gr8rambino)

    nice gifts to houthis and SAA eventually hahahahaha :)))

  • smertzakrov

    seems right for robots to build robots….Arthur Koestler compared Americans to 5th century Romans: “a similarly contactless society populated by automatons…a similarly soulless, politically corrupt, everybody for themselves society”