Ground robots are being increasingly adopted by the military for operational use. Since their initial deployment in 2002 in Operation Enduring Freedom, over 8,000 ground robot systems have been purchased by the services. They have been credited by the military with saving the lives of thousands of soldiers and civilians and preventing many, many more loss of limbs, brain trauma, and gun shot wounds. The increasing use of ground robots has been followed by demand from the field for greater capability.
Under the administration of NCMS, over 200 universities, companies, and non-profit organizations involved in the robotics industry have come together to participate in the Robotics Technology Consortium (RTC). The goal of this Consortium is to increase the capability of robotic systems, accelerate the adoption of military robotic technologies, and grow the defense and commercial industry. RTC membership is separate from NCMS and consists of a diverse mix of large defense contractors, small businesses, university research labs, and nontraditional companies – i.e. those that do not do significant business with the Department of Defense (DoD).
The RTC’s mission is to:
- Perform innovative research to both fill current and future capability gaps identified by the services.
- Encourage teaming between military system integrators and robot companies, component providers, universities, and non-profit organizations inventing the next generation technologies.
- Enable nontraditional robotic companies to work with the Government in an efficient manner.
- Provide industry and academia with a voice in the DoD technology direction and roadmapping determination process.
- Promote the industry by educating decision makers on the state-of-the-industry.
It is imperative that the U.S. stay ahead in this field from a military perspective; Congress, Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), General Officers, and the warfighters agree that unmanned systems will be increasingly used in future operations. Within the 2001 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress mandated that “by 2015, one-third of operational ground combat vehicles are unmanned” and reaffirmed this mandate in 2006.
As in many industries, without support for the next innovation, the U.S. Robotics Industry is at risk of moving overseas where labor costs are lower and the manufacturing infrastructure is better. This is not inevitable if the U.S. can leverage its considerable advantages: the largest installed base of unmanned military systems, the most innovative roboticists in both academia and industry, and the first successful commercial robot companies. The industry came together to form the RTC to ensure that the robotics industry is high on the agenda of thought leaders and decision makers and ensure that the USA continues to dominate this industry of great strategic importance.
|Visit the RTC website|
For more information on the Robotics Technology Consortium, please contact