Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army announced it has chosen the Kobra robot made by FLIR Systems Inc. for the heavy version of its Common Robotic System.
The track-mounted vehicles are used for explosive ordnance disposal and other heavy-lifting duties. The contract with FLIR, headquartered in Wilsonville, Ore., is valued at up to $109 million for the five-year production run.
The Army sought a vehicle that weighs up to 700 pounds to carry a variety of payloads and sensors to support missions. The Kobra can lift up to 330 pounds, stretch to nearly 12 feet in height and fold down for storage and transportation.
The vehicle is part of the ground robotics industry, a category ready to undergo transformation as the Army begins competitions to define its upcoming unmanned ground systems fleet.
The use of unmanned ground vehicles is necessitated by the dangers of improvised explosive devices and similar threats found on battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan. The result was an assortment of about 7,000 UGVs of various design.
With the FLIR contract, the Army has indicated a preferred model of unmanned ground vehicles, using a small number of common platforms in which parts, sensors and other systems can be replaced easily and maneuvered by a common controller.