BAE Systems has received a contract to continue serving as industrial lead for the US Army Research Laboratory's (ARL) Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology (MAST) Collaborative Technology Alliance for the next five years.
Under the $43m cooperative agreement extension, the company will continue joint research with the MAST Alliance's team of scientists from the army, academia and industry to help accelerate development of bio-inspired micro-robotics systems for US ground forces.
BAE Systems MAST strategic development manager Bill Devine said: "The technologies being developed under MAST will support products that extend soldiers' capabilities, while keeping them out of harm's way."
ARL MAST Consortium manager Dr Brett Piekarski said the quality and success of research conducted over the past five years contributed to the decision to award the programme extension option.
Work specifically includes research, development and integration of micro-scale aeromechanics and ambulation, propulsion, sensing, autonomy, communications, navigation, and control, as well as microscale integration among others facilitating production of several different mission-capable robotic platforms.
Micro-robots are expected to be used by dismounted troops for remote surveillance missions within complex urban environments and terrain.
Primary research labs supporting BAE in the second phase include the University of Maryland, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania and the Nasa Jet Propulsion Lab.
Initiated in 2008, the MAST programme features two main components, a fundamental research programme, which is focused on microsystems mechanics, processing for autonomous operation, microelectronics and integration; with the second being a technology transition phase.
Other participants include University of California, California Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, North Carolina A&T and the University of New Mexico.
Image: The bio-inspired micro-robots will extend remote sensing capabilities of US soldiers. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.