Honors Gallery

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robotics

Award: Excellence in Technology Transfer

Year: 2016

Award Type:

Region: Far West

Naval Information Warfare Center, Pacific (NIWC)

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robotics (EODR) is a system architecture for interoperability and operator control capability for unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) designated for explosive ordnance disposal duties.

Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) has developed several robotics-related software systems, including a common operator interface software framework called the Multi-robot Operator Control Unit (MOCU) and a software library for the Joint Architecture for Unmanned Systems interoperability standard.

SSC Pacific also maintained a Robotics Systems Pool that made the UGV platforms and technology available for transfer via Limited Purpose Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (LP-CRADA) to industry, academia, and state and local governments for R&D purposes. In July 2009, SSC Pacific signed an LP-CRADA with RE2, Inc. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Results quickly supported a full CRADA between the two partners, which was executed in August 2009 and effective through August 2012.

The SSC Pacific team also worked to validate use of SSC Pacific's MOCU in the Department of Defense's (DOD) EOD UGVs. The SSC Pacific-RE2 exchange excelled in its seamless integration of the two partners' robotics expertise, based on mutual respect and willingness to achieve "interoperability" not only in robotics, but in the steps taken to transition the valuable technologies to industry and back to the military.

Both RE2 and SSC Pacific significantly contributed to the broader validation of open architecture for EOD UGV technologies.

The EODR tech transfer effort specifically targeted multiple problems that can decrease the field performance of EOD vehicles and ultimately the effectiveness and safety of the U.S. warfighter. Existing systems typically utilized different architectures and lacked a common controller, making training difficult and field upgrades costly. They also were unable to quickly support interchanging payloads and suffered from a lack of dexterity, primitive controls, inadequate depth perception feedback, lack of modularity and interoperability, poor human-robot interface designs, and lack of intuitive feedback. The partnership achieved agile robotic systems that can easily communicate using the Navy software to accelerate integration, allow for rapid insertion of upgrades, and lower system costs.

Both RE2 and SSC Pacific significantly contributed to the broader validation of open architecture for EOD UGV technologies. Their back-and-forth effort was critical to what ultimately became a paradigm shift in Navy and DOD robotics acquisition processes, from a process focused on unique solutions from a single company to one more focused on cost-effective open architecture and interoperability, which will guide development of the Navy's next-generation EOD UGVs in the advanced Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robotic System program of record.

Team Members:

Michael Bruch, See Yee, Gary Gilbreath, Jorgen Pederse