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CSCSS Program Executive Officer Scott Davis

Highlights from the Unmanned Systems Defense 2015 (Ground Day) 

1.       Scott Davis (U.S. Army CSCSS) – outlined his approach to acquisition, noting that CSCSS is striving to identify only the capability needed, and not be too specific about the approach.  To do so limits trade space, he noted, adding that he’d rather field systems and leave room for Engineering Change Proposal (ECPs), like has been accomplished with the Abrams, Bradley, and Stryker platforms.

The nearest-term robotics focus of CSCSS is the MTRS Increment II program, where a primary focus is to reduce system weight.  Release of the RFP is slated for 2nd Quarter of FY 16 (January-March 2016).  The next CSCSS focus will be CRS-I, with funding allocated and an RFP anticipated for 1st Quarter FY2017 (last quarter of calendar year 2016 – about a year from now).  The objective is to provide a system with a total weight of 25 pounds to include vehicle, payload, and GCS. 

There were 56 submissions under the first (16.1) iteration of the REP.  Six of them (including one of Roboteam’s) were chosen for demonstration.  Three experiments will be carried out in 3Q2016 at Fort Benning and three will be carried out at Fort Leonard Wood.  28 REP proposals were rejected, and 20 were deferred.  Mike Muldoon runs that program.  Mr. Davis says that proposals are due on 15 December for the next (16.2) cycle, but CRS-I/REP Program Manager Lou Analure said end of December.

2.       Lou Analure (Small Systems (MTRS Inc. II, CRS-I, REP) U.S. Army CSCSS) -- “IPO 2.0 is coming out soon.  The good thing is that DoD is no driving new, unique standards, so as a result IOP is reacting to changes in industry, and will continue to help us with the open architecture.”

3.       U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Matt Dooley – the “U.S. Army Robotics and Autonomous Systems Strategy” will be released in year 2016.  This strategy will outline Army objectives in robotics development and fielding in the near-term (realistic in 5 years), mid-term (feasible by 2025), and long-term (visionary).  Mr. Dooley said that the Strategy is not quite complete and that industry, which can access the “draft base document” via the National Advanced Mobility Consortium (NAMC), and inform and impact it before it is published.  

4.       Kent Massey (HDT Robotics) – outlined lessons learned during the recent two-month-long demonstrations under the CSCSS Squad Mission Equipment Transport (SMET) program, a program meant to provide soldiers with a UGV, two of which can carry the lead of a platoon.  He stressed how difficult the environment was for the six contractors (including his company) involved in the demos.

5.       Navy Captain Aaron Peters, PM SEA 06-Expeditionary Missions (PMS 408) -- discussed briefly the AEODRS program, stressing that the Northrop Grumman team contracted in August 2015 included a host of key industry players (HDT, QiniteQ, Carnegie Mellon, Harris Corp.) in providing an IOP compliant platform.   AEODRS focus moving forward will be on building capability modules upon the open architecture.  Captain Peters called on industry to develop technology to incrementally insert into the system at low risk.  He mentioned that industry is encouraged to take modules to Johns Hopkins University test bed to integrate.  Areas of mentioned interest included: autonomous navigation, GPS navigation, dual/highly dexterous manipulator, Flash LIDAR, improved sensors, laser buried threat detection, enhanced communication, and most anything to reduce weight.

6.     Brian Skibba – Chief Airbase Acquisition Branch (CXAE) Air Force Civil Engineering Center, USAF – outlined his interest in pursuing robotic solutions to enable “Airfield Damage Repair” a new program that seeks to “unman” runway repair systems.  Said Skibba in response to a question: “I’ve got more robot money than I have ever had.  They are pushing it at me” adding “I foresee more and more automation based on pressures on the manpower side.”