MARINE CORPS NEWS
Marine Corps Pursues Multi-Purpose Ground Robot
ARLINGTON, Virginia — The Marine Corps is turning to unmanned ground vehicles that can shoulder the burden of moving supplies and perform dangerous missions.
The Marine Corps awarded a Small Business Innovation Research contract in September to Colorado-based Stratom to develop the Remote Expeditionary Autonomous Pioneer, or REAPr, system. The company will spend at least six months developing the unmanned ground vehicle that will be a “workforce multiplier” for the service, said Ross Wehner, senior analyst for corporate development and strategy at Stratom.
Wehner called REAPr a “Swiss Army knife” because it consolidates different missions — such as logistics, tool changing and mine clearing — in one unmanned platform.
“The idea is to create a single vehicle that can be versatile to address a lot of those challenges and objectives,” he said.
The platform will be an off-road, remote-controlled vehicle that features an attachment system that can be retrofitted for specific missions with different instruments, including those already in the Marine Corps’ toolbox, Wehner said. As a result, Marines can conduct dangerous expeditionary tasks from a distance, he said.
“Having the remote control capability … allows one operator to potentially control a number of different vehicles, but it also lets them do so from a secure location rather than being out in harm’s way,” Wehner said.
Eventually, Stratom envisions incorporating autonomous capabilities into REAPr, he said. The company’s modular software, called the Summit Off-Road Autonomy Platform, will serve as the basis for the platform and enable autonomy in the future, he added.
The system will also be deployable from an MV-22 Osprey aircraft — a critical requirement as the company designs REAPr, said Mark Gordon, Stratom’s president and CEO.
The Marine Corps is currently undertaking a service-wide modernization effort known as Force Design 2030, spearheaded by Commandant Gen. David Berger. The plan focuses on transitioning the service into an expeditionary force ready for conflict in the Indo-Pacific.
“This is very much in alignment with those thoughts on, ‘How do you operate and execute mission sets in a very austere environment over a large, global terrain?’” Gordan said. “We are taking that into consideration in terms of mobility.”