The U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division is testing a new robot that can be transported by an individual Soldier conducting dismounted operations, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
During a three-week operational test, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team’s mission was to validate the effectiveness of the Common Robotic System Individual (CRS-I).
CRS(I) features an interoperability profile (IOP) compatible open architecture to support a variety of payloads and missions to detect, identify, and counter hazards. The robot was designed to provide situational awareness to the soldiers during combat, stability, and homeland security operations.
“The purpose of the test was to stress the CRS-I in a realistic operational environment and allow for Soldier feedback on how it performs under combat conditions,” said Jeff Grable, test supervisor with the West Fort Hood, Texas-based U.S. Army Operational Test Command’s Maneuver Support Test Directorate.
The test incorporated multiple missions ranging from Infantry, Engineer, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNE), and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD).
Soldiers participating in the test had to identify chemical threats, and clear improvised explosive devices (IED), all while fighting an adaptive opposing force during Situational Training Exercises (STXs).
Each STX lane challenged squads and teams as they traversed through multiple objectives during day and night operations.
The EOD team conducted multiple site interrogations on suspected IEDs that were concealed. From defusing pressure plates to eliminating trip wires at an entrance of a tunnel complex, EOD Soldiers faced an overabundance of real-world tactical challenges.
The CBRNE squad faced multiple situations where they had to detect, identify, and defeat hazardous chemical threats. The squad was tested during an STX lane where they were forced to deploy the CRS-I in a tunnel complex to determine a particular chemical threat.
Infantry and Engineer Squads conducted missions that were centered on deploying the CRS-I with a live opposing force attempting to hinder their operations.
The Infantry Squad identified IEDs while searching for suspected enemy caches. They entered and cleared rooms using the CRS-I to help distinguish enemy personnel from non-combatants. The Engineer Squad focused on route clearance operations; eliminating IEDs and triggermen.
The Army’s Operational Test Command conducts independent operational testing to inform acquisition and fielding decisions. The CRS-I operational test provided vital data that will inform the Army’s decision to field the CRS-I in the future.
In March, QinetiQ North America (QNA) announced that it has won the competition for the U.S. Army’s CRS(I) program.
The seven-year Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract awarded was valued up to $164,487,260. It includes a Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) phase worth approximately $20m over one-to-two years, followed by a series of annual production releases. QNA has been awarded a $4,051,837 initial order as part of the LRIP phase.