Army leaders have selected a new robot to help soldiers carry equipment in the field.
General Dynamics Land Systems’ Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport (S-MET) was recently chosen as the winner of a $162.4 million contract to provide the force with the robotic mules, which are set to hit the formation in 2021, according to officials.
The robots can carry a 1,000-lb load for 60 miles. It also generates power to keep equipment and batteries charged while moving and can function as either an unmanned system or be optionally manned. The robot can also be customized to meet specific mission requirements and could act as a remote weapon station, support unmanned aerial systems, conduct reconnaissance movements or perform casualty evacuation.
The S-MET’s capabilities were designed based off of feedback from soldiers. While supporting an infantry squad, the use of an S-MET has the potential to lighten the individual soldier’s carrying load by 100 lbs.
Approximately 624 S-METs are scheduled to be produced and distributed across infantry brigade combat teams. The program has been in development since April of 2017.
The Army also selected a new robot for use by explosive ordinance disposal units. Known as the Common Robotic System- Heavy (CRS-H), the new robot will provide EOD teams more capabilities to meet a larger range of threats.
According to a report from the Army Times, CRS-H could potentially help soldiers disarm large vehicle-borne IEDs or weapons of mass destruction. The robot has a lifting capability of 275 lbs., a speed of 6 mph and a run time of 7 hours.
Currently, 248 CRS-H robots are scheduled to be delivered to the Army sometime during the summer of 2020. The contract, which was awarded to FLIR systems, is valued at $109 million.