API said the project on behalf of the National Center for Defense Robotics will seek to improve the autonomy of such robots in order to reduce the workload on the human operators and enable more precise control.
API will work on the project along with Northrop Grumman's Remotec subsidiary under the $928,000 contract announced Thursday.
"We believe that the additional capabilities we will add to the SARONS (Semi-Autonomous Remote Ordnance Neutralization Systems) platform will not only help keep robot operators safer, but will also decrease their mission time, enabling a quicker response to new threats," said Principal Investigator Parag Batavia.
The team will specifically look into different types of sensors that allow the robot to make its way around obstacles and to its target. The goal is to reduce both cost and complexity.
In addition evaluations of the precision maneuvering capabilities with a goal of making the robots more nimble and able to complete their task faster. There will also be design work that will better enable the robot to find the target with minimal help from the operator.
Batavia added that the research would focus primarily on current "robust and mature" technologies in order to speed up the evaluation process.