SOURCE: RE2, Inc.

March 20, 2007 08:00 ET

RE2, Inc. Wins U.S. Army Phase II SBIR to Continue Development of the Small Robot Toolkit

Program Utilizes RE2's Extensive Robotics Engineering and Joint Architecture for Unmanned Systems (JAUS) Expertise; RE2 to Adapt Toolkit to Existing Small Robot Platforms, Including Foster-Miller's TALON®

PITTSBURGH, PA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- March 20, 2007 -- RE2, Inc., a leading provider of JAUS software solutions and unmanned systems technologies, announced that it has been competitively awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract by the U.S. Army to further develop a low-cost Small Robot Toolkit (SRT) for Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV), consisting of a robotic manipulator arm with plug-n-play tools and an adaptive operator control unit (OCU).

PHASE I

Prior to winning the Phase II award, RE2 participated in an initial six-month Phase I of the project. RE2 accomplished the following during Phase I:

--  Conducted in-depth primary research to determine the needs of small
    robot operators, including EOD and security robot users;
--  Developed a full system design, including the vehicle interfaces, OCU,
    controllers, manipulators and communication components;
--  Established performance goals and develop a cost/benefit analysis for
    the communication components;
--  Determined the technical feasibility of using the toolkit with and
    without access to JAUS-based native robot controllers and communication
    links; and
--  Created a prototype of the modular tool attachment system.
    
The core strength of RE2's SRT design is its modular tool attachment system. The ability to interchange tools without having to modify any part of the robot or the corresponding control system provides a low-cost solution that is easily adaptable to new applications and platforms. The adaptive OCU is able to modify its control functions to match the tool currently attached. The controllers, which plug into the OCU display, are low-cost, disposable, commercially-off-the-shelf (COTS) game controllers, which allow any user to easily operate the robot and the attached manipulator/tool. Finally, the dual communications package provides both a Radio Frequency (RF) and non-RF means to control the robot remotely.

RE2's extensive experience with the Joint Architecture for Unmanned Systems (JAUS), including its robust RE2 JAUS Software Development Kit (SDK), was also critical to this program. The Company's in-depth knowledge of the JAUS standard provided a framework for creating an interoperable system that could easily be adapted to existing small robot platforms.

PHASE II

During the 18-month Phase II SBIR, RE2 will demonstrate an adaptive, modular SRT such that the OCU can adapt to various tools, manipulators, and disposable hand controllers. The specifics of the Phase II program include:

--  Create a prototype of the SRT manipulator arm, tools, and OCU;
--  Verify the ability to integrate the SRT on small robot platforms,
    including Foster-Miller's TALON;
--  Verify the usability and functionality of the SRT in experimental
    and/or operational settings;
--  Design new tools based on feedback from military EOD personnel in the
    field; and
--  Prove efficient manufacturability of the SRT system.
    
"By proposing a practical, yet elegant plug-n-play solution, our team was able to meet the requirements of the SRT SBIR and competitively win the second phase of the program," stated Jorgen Pedersen, president and chief executive officer for RE2, Inc. "I believe the primary market research that our team conducted, including in-depth interviews with both military and civilian users of small robots, gave us a competitive advantage. Based on the expert opinions of the user community and on-going guidance from the U.S. Army, we created an initial SRT design that would meet the needs of multiple markets and still remain low-cost and user friendly."

Pedersen continued, "In addition to the creation of new technology, this $730,000 award has enabled RE2 to create new jobs and further establish Southwestern Pennsylvania as a key region and supplier of unmanned systems technology for the Department of Defense."

"The awarding of this Phase II SBIR program to RE2 further signifies the strength of the company's robotics and JAUS expertise," remarked Bill Thomasmeyer, president of the National Center for Defense Robotics and executive vice president of The Technology Collaborative. "RE2 continues to establish itself as a key player in the unmanned systems market and its success enhances Southwestern Pennsylvania's reputation as a center for agile robotics technologies."

Partnership with Foster-Miller, Inc.

RE2 will partner with engineering firm and manufacturer of the TALON EOD robot, Foster-Miller, Inc., during the SRT Phase II SBIR. Foster-Miller will work closely with RE2 to integrate the SRT onto a TALON robot and test the SRT with soldier or soldier surrogate operators to verify the usability of the SRT product.

"As a result of our industry related experience, Foster-Miller is continually looking to advance the technical capabilities of our robotic platforms and, as such, has partnered with RE2 to integrate the SRT concept onto the TALON," stated Edward J. Godere, Vice President, Group Director, Power Systems Technology Group, Foster-Miller, Inc. "The result of a successful program will provide the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), Hazmat, and local Law Enforcement communities with enhanced affordable capability. Foster-Miller is looking forward to supporting RE2 in a successful Phase II SBIR program and to further build the relationship between our two companies."

About RE2, Inc.

RE2, Inc. (Robotics Engineering Excellence), is a Carnegie Mellon spin-off company specializing in mobile defense robotics with an emphasis on JAUS software development and unmanned systems components. RE2's feature products include the RE2 JAUS Software Development Kit (SDK) and the SHERPA unmanned ground vehicle platform. RE2 also provides a broad range of unmanned systems services, including system integration, software development, robotics engineering and semi-autonomous navigation. RE2's expertise lends itself to several markets, including defense, law-enforcement, homeland security, and EOD. For more information, please visit www.resquared.com or call (412) 681-6382.

About Foster-Miller, Inc.

Foster-Miller, Inc. is an engineering, manufacturing and technology development firm principally located in suburban Boston, MA on Rte. 95, "America's Technology Highway." It is certified to Aerospace Quality Management Standard AS9100 and has SW-CMM Level 3 software certification from the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Foster-Miller was founded in 1956 by three graduates of MIT who believed there was a need for a company that could solve clients' difficult technical problems through first-class analysis and design. In November 2004, it became an independent, wholly owned subsidiary of QinetiQ North America (QNA). Visit www.foster-miller.com for further information.

Contact Information

  • RE2, Inc. Contact:
    Jessica Jordan-Pedersen
    Tel: 412-681-6382
    Email: Email Contact