Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Consortium (NREC), and United Defense Industries (UDI) have been awarded a $26.4 million system development and demonstration (SDD) contract by the US Department of Defense.
The team will design, develop and produce tactical unmanned ground vehicles (TUGV) for the US Marine Corps as part of the US government’s mandate that one third of all military vehicles be unmanned by 2015.
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 successful prototype development program that validated their technology and included conducting mobility and scout demonstrations of their system, which is known as the Gladiator TUGV.
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 neutralising threats and reducing risk to Marines on the ground. To achieve these goals, the unit will be equipped with remote, unmanned scout, reconnaissance, and surveillance capabilities.
Gladiator will be produced at UDI’s manufacturing facility in Fayette County in southwestern Pennsylvania. According to a joint statement, as many as 200 Gladiator vehicles could be built for the Marine Corps at UDI’s plant.
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.