Insurgents are emplacing deadly IEDs in complex terrain alongside routes that cannot be traversed by vehicle borne detection and neutralization systems. Additionally, insurgents are specifically targeting dismounting Warfighters as they conduct operations in urban areas. To date, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and Route Clearance Team robots only have the ability to detect surface laid explosive threats, thus providing standoff but no buried threat detection. For this reason, the Dismounted Standoff Explosive Hazard Detection Marking & Neutralization (DSEHDMN) Rapid Fielding Initiative was created.
Seeking innovative solutions to solve this gap and detect buried threats, the U.S. Army competed the DSEHDMN Fielding Initiative through the Robotics Technology Consortium (RTC), now known as the National Advanced Mobility Consortium (NAMC), which is the industry/academic arm of the Defense Mobility Enterprise (DME), a unique consortium devoted to accelerating the advancement of manned and unmanned ground vehicle technologies. In turn, the NAMC sent a request for proposals to its members, a nationwide alliance of traditional and nontraditional small businesses, large defense contractors, academic institutions, and other organizations specializing in the development of ground vehicle and robotics systems.
After proposals were submitted and evaluated by the Government for project understanding, solution and testing feasibility, and other factors, Carnegie Mellon University and Carnegie Robotics LLC (CRL) were selected and awarded a $4.7M, 12-month contract in 2011. They quickly went to work, maturing and refining over 10 years of countermine research performed by Dr. Herman Herman.
CRL delivered eight DSEHDMN systems and participated in extensive Army Test and Evaluation Command tests, including a military utility assessment with U.S. Army combat engineers. One of the systems, the DSEHDMN-HM, was a payload module designed to mount on the Talon platform organic to Engineer and EOD units. The payload provided the ability to detect and mark explosive hazards at standoff in complex and urban terrain, including confined areas and subterranean environments in support of the full range of military operations while increasing the survivability and safety of the Warfighter. Using a briefcase sized control unit, the operator monitored the robot from inside a vehicle or from a dismounted position.
The DSEHDMN system demonstrated operational capability with the ability to detect metallic and low-metallic Anti-Personnel, Anti-Tank mines and IEDs while providing stand-off distance to combat engineers.
Also, a key requirement for the DSEHDMN system was a robust, highly integrated stereo camera for mobile robot 3D perception. CRL produced such a camera based in large part on technology and know-how the NREC had gained from decades of developing prototype commercial field robotics systems in partnership with major equipment providers.
CRL was awarded a Phase 2 extension of the project to build an improved system based upon the lessons learned from field testing. They went on to develop the TPT2 system, providing enhanced autonomy and detection and a more capable manipulator.
The successful field test results of the DSEHDMN and TPT2 prototypes helped support the transition of this capability to a U.S. Army Program of Record called the Autonomous Mine Detection System (AMDS), led by PM CCS. CRL competed and won the EMD phase of AMDS in September, 2014. CRL will deliver AMDS systems to the Army in 2016 for Government developmental testing. Current AMDS program plans show Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) in 2017 and Full Rate Production in 2018.
If your Government group is seeking similarly expedited access to the latest in private sector technology, contact the Vehicle and Robotics Alliance (VRA) Program Office today to discuss utilizing the GVA OTA as a contract vehicle.
If your company or research organization has cutting-edge ground vehicle solutions for challenges like the DSEHDMN Rapid Fielding Initiative, join the NAMC today.