U.S. Army officials needed small ground robots to help warfighters gather situational awareness in dangerous conditions. They found their solution from iRobot Corp. in Bedford, Mass. Officials of the Army Contracting Command in Warren, Mich., announced their intention last week to issue a sole-source contract to iRobot for the Xm1216 Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV) Robotic System — a version of the iRobot PackBot tactical mobile robot.
The amount of the unmanned vehicles contract has yet to be negotiated. The contract, when awarded, will be for developing , supporting, testing hardware and software related to the Xm1216 unmanned ground vehicle (UGV). The contract will be an 18-month cost-plus incentive fee contract, that may include an option for iRobot to provide a technical contract if the Army has enough money.
The Xm1216 unmanned vehicle is a Future Combat Systems (FCS)-specific, man packable version of the iRobot’s PackBot. The Xm1216 weighs 29 pounds and can carry six pounds of payload attachments that can include sensors, robotic arms, and related accessories.
The Xm1216 small UGV is for military operations in urban areas, tunnels, sewers, and caves for gathering urban intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) information, or data on toxic industrial chemicals or other kinds of poisonous materials.
The Xm1216 SUGV has a modular design that enables users to mount several different kinds of payloads to the vehicle in a plug-and-play fashion.
Users can control the Xm1216 with a Microsoft Xbox 360 gamepad fitted with speciality drivers. A ruggedized controller also is available called the Small HArm’s Way Controller (HaWC) for combat environments.