The U.S. Army has selected Endeavor Robotics, a part of FLIR Systems, for the Common Robotic System – Heavy (CRS-H) contract.
The CRS-H (pronounced “Chris-H”) systems are heavy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) robots which will bolster EOD Soldiers’ protection by increasing standoff to interrogate hazardous devices in the range of military operations and in homeland defense applications.
The contract is valued at $109 million, and the Army Acquisition Objective is 248. Delivery of this modernized capability is slated to begin in the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2020.
CRS-H’s basic operational capabilities include:
• Manipulator arm lift capacity: Close to platform > 275 lbs.; 72-inch extension > 100 lbs.
• Platform speed > 6 mph
• Obstacle clearance > 32 inches (Jersey Barrier)
• Platform endurance > 7 hours
• Weight < 700 lbs. Curb weight, 1,000 lbs. Gross System Weight — (includes 300 lbs. of non-native payloads)
• Interoperability Profile compliant
• Cyber hardened.
CRS-H’s special features will provide enhanced capability to detect, identify, access, render safe, exploit, and achieve final disposition of heavy explosive ordnance, including Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), Vehicle Borne IEDs (VBIEDs), and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) at a safe standoff.
CRS-H will field with these native payloads:
• Cameras (including pan, tilt, zoom)
• Secure radios
• One radio relay to extend operational range in urban and complex terrain
• Robust manipulator arm
• Cargo carrier rack
• Operator control unit.
The system was developed under Other Transaction Authorities, or OTAs, during Phase I and Phase II efforts. An OTA is an authority of the Department of Defense to carry out certain prototype, research, testing, and production projects. OTAs were created to give DoD the flexibility necessary to adopt and incorporate business practices that reflect commercial industry standards and best practices into its award instruments.
Soldier evaluation has truly been a critical part of the CRS-H program from the outset and has helped compress the time it takes to field a modernized capability that meets the needs of the Soldier.
The first Soldier “touchpoint” occurred during the program’s Phase I’s “fly off” in late 2018 at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. There, an EOD team conducted operations to utilize each of the three candidate CRS-H systems to simulate missions responding to complex explosive hazard threats — to include VBIEDs and large ordnance items. Each EOD Soldier provided feedback on each system relative to each mission. The Army provided this feedback directly to each competing company, which was used to upgrade their systems prior to delivering hardware for the next fly off.
The second Soldier touchpoint took place during Fly Off #2 in May and June this year at a Military Operations on Urban Terrain site on Fort Hood, Texas. During this event, three separate EOD teams evaluated each of the three candidate CRS-H systems. These teams conducted missions that replicated explosive hazard threat scenarios expected during large-scale combat operations. Each Soldier provided feedback through surveys assessing the overall system performance of each of the candidate CRS-H systems.
The next steps in the CRS-H program call for using Phase II testing results to obtain a Safety Confirmation and Operational Test Agency Evaluation Report to allow for immediate fielding to EOD Teams under a Conditional Materiel Release with Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) technical manuals in the third quarter of the Fiscal Year 2020. The Army will then complete additional logistics requirements, including maintainer manuals and Field Level Maintainer New Equipment Training necessary to achieve Full Materiel Release in Fiscal Year 2021.
This is the second important production contract award for Army robotics programs of record the past one month. In late October, the Army announced the Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport (S-MET) production contract award to General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS). S-MET will lighten Soldiers’ loads by providing Infantry Brigade Combat Teams a robotic “mule” capability.