Anduril Industries and Hanwha Defense USA said they are teaming up to submit a bid for the U.S. Army’s Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport robot competition.

Anduril, serving as the prime contractor, plans to deliver “a modified, autonomy-ready Uncrewed Ground Vehicle (UGV) based on Hanwha’s proven Arion-SMET platform, which has already demonstrated its performance in highly-relevant and varied environments in the Indo-Pacific, including the latest Foreign Comparative Testing with the U.S. Army and Marine Corps in Hawaii,” the companies said in a Feb. 29 statement.

The Army chose General Dynamics Land Systems’ Multi-Utility Tactical Transport, or MUTT, for its SMET unmanned ground system in a first increment of the program. The $162.4 million contract, awarded in October 2019, would wrap up at the end of October 2024. GDLS won another follow-on contract in 2020.

Now the service has opened bids for the second increment of the program intended to carry gear and light payloads to decrease the burden to soldiers in the field. The Army is pursuing two major robotic combat vehicle platforms simultaneously: the Robotic Combat Vehicle meant to fight alongside Stryker and Bradley vehicles, and the SMET, which is likely to accompany lighter formations.

Anduril and the U.S. arm of South Korean defense firm Hanwha will also be working with Forterra, formerly RRAI, to incorporate its AutoDrive vehicle autonomy solution “to enable complex on and off-road maneuvers,” the statement reads.

“By combining Anduril’s electronics and software, Hanwha Defense USA’s proven hardware, and Forterra’s proven off-road vehicle autonomy stack, the partnership will bring speed, flexibility, and advanced capabilities to dismounted infantry,” Zach Mears, head of strategy at Anduril, said in the statement. “With a simplified user interface powered by Lattice, users will be able to quickly and easily command and control the S-MET to support lethal effects at the tactical edge.”

Lattice is Anduril’s software originally designed to counter drones and other threats, but has wider applicability for sharing battlefield information and data at a tactical level. Anduril is also teamed with American Rheinmetall Vehicles in the XM30 Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle competition underway to eventually replace the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, bringing its Lattice capability to that effort as well.

The capability, Anduril states, will allow soldiers to operate the vehicle, manage payloads and communicate simultaneously in “complex environments.”

The team is focused on load-carrying, power generation capacity, reduced sustainment, survivability and a modular architecture for a wide array of payloads, the release details.

The robotic vehicle will have a low acoustic signature, “ensuring that it serves as an asset, not liability on the modern battlefield,” the statement adds.

Other expected competitors are Teledyne FLIR, GDLS, Rheinmetall, with teammate ST Engineering, and HDT.

Teledyne FLIR announced its bid in October at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference.

The Army has tightly held details on the competition such as the timeline for evaluating and choosing winners and what comes after and has not posted any solicitations on the public domain for federal contract opportunities, Sam.gov.

The service is focused on rigorous experimentation with robots and emerging technology to develop integrated fighting formations of both humans and robots. The Army calls it “human-machine integration” and is evaluating exactly how robotic technologies can be coupled with the best of what humans can bring to the table on the battlefield.

Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.

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