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BAE Tapped to Lead Army Micro-Robotic Effort

by Matt Cox on March 6, 2013

The Army has awarded BAE Systems a $43 million cooperative agreement extension to lead the Army Research Laboratory’s Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology Collaborative Technology Alliance for another five years.

As a result, the company will have a significant role working with the MAST Alliance’s team of scientists from the U.S. Army, academia, and industry as it advances bio-inspired micro-robotics technology to extend the remote sensing capability of U.S. ground forces, according to a BAE Systems release.

The goal of the research is to enable small robotic platforms – that would be used by individual soldiers – to remotely perform surveillance within complex urban environments and terrain.

“The technologies being developed under MAST will support products that extend soldiers’ capabilities while keeping them out of harm’s way,” said Bill Devine, MAST’s strategic development manager for BAE Systems. “We are proud to continue our successful collaboration with the ARL on the next phase of this exciting program.”

The second phase of the MAST program continues the research, development and integration of several key areas including micro-scale aeromechanics and ambulation; propulsion; sensing, autonomy, communications, navigation, and control; and micro-scale integration, enabling several different mission-capable robotic platforms.

“Our recent review by the MAST Research Management Board received high marks for the quality and success of the research conducted over the past five years contributing greatly to the decision to award the five year option to extend the program,” said Dr. Brett Piekarski, ARL MAST Consortium manager.

BAE Systems, in cooperation with primary research labs from the University of Maryland, the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania and the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, will lead the effort for the ARL into 2017.

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

jack March 6, 2013 at 5:23 pm

I see a made rush by the enemy to buy fly swatters.


Lance March 6, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Depends is this for infantry to use to counter IEDs bombs and bad guys in building or for the Government to spy on people. Scarey when you think of the latter


Tri-ring March 7, 2013 at 4:39 am

Forget surveillance, place a poison needle and you got the ultimate assassination tool.


blight_ March 7, 2013 at 10:55 pm

gom jabbar?


Menzie March 13, 2013 at 7:27 pm

I do not think that the Reverend Mother would sanction it's use but maybe the Face Dancers. It all depends on the target I guess.


blight_ March 13, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Alia used hers; then again Abomination is an outlier.

@HarryInventor July 3, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Since all tech is now made in Asia, I expect the first the usa will know they're in second place re. micro warbot capabilities is when the POTUS has a projectile vomit then a major brain hemorrhage live on tv while giving one of his usual, pointless 'I won't stand for this' rants. That'll be pretty funny and mark the targeted, bloodless way in which future wars will kinda start and end.

Got a problem with a despot… just kill 'em. No wedding guests nor bystanding children need be droned to dust either.

As Al Capone's men wrote on the wall in the movie; 'TOUCHABLE'!

Does ya get it now, usa? "Future's so bright, gotta wear shades…"


Punkinjr March 7, 2013 at 5:16 am
Guest March 7, 2013 at 8:13 am

Show me the word "privacy" in the US Constitution.


blight_ March 7, 2013 at 10:48 am

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated"

I guess the question is, is having a drone fly around and watch every moment of your life an unreasonable "search"?


blight_ March 6, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Let DARPA do this…. :|


Musson March 7, 2013 at 1:43 pm

I think three guys from the AV club could get it done faster and cheaper than BAE!


oblat March 7, 2013 at 5:51 am

Another operationally useless waste on money


Guest March 7, 2013 at 8:21 am

Are you kidding? You could plant a couple of hundred of these along an enemy runway waiting for his fighters to scramble at which point they would take off to be ingested by the engines, ripping them to pieces. You would shut down enemy runways all over the place.


Brandon March 7, 2013 at 10:22 am

That is a great concept but how close would the operator have to be to a heavily defended runway and how many operators would be needed to have hundreds of these in place? Also how big or heavy would these have to be to cause significant damage to more than a plane or two? Some one could just drive a semi truck around smashing them like bugs on the highway. Doesn't seem like a very logical way to cause damage.


Guest March 8, 2013 at 8:26 am

With the progress that's been made in hive/swarm logic a master-slave relationship could be set up where the sole master would be overseeing the well-being of the swarm from a lookout position a half-mile away while being linked by satellite to the operator who could take action against threats. The swarm itself could be composed of task groups equipped for anti-personnel or anti-armor missions.


loki March 7, 2013 at 9:37 pm

or you could just drop a dumb iron bomb on the runway at a cost of almost nothing


Guest March 8, 2013 at 8:11 am

You have to drop a lot of dumb iron bombs on a runway to shut it down. You also have to be in a position to shoot and kill the runway repair crew because bomb craters are not hard to fix.


rickky March 7, 2013 at 9:43 am
ketr March 11, 2013 at 10:27 am

I bet the chinese are already copying the tech


Bill W March 14, 2013 at 8:53 am

Why give BAE any more money to waste? What have they ever delivered on-time or as requested? It's always a bridge too far for them with the current funding, or out of scope, or you didn't tell us that. But if you just give a little more time and money…..


JonescrusherSniper1 March 14, 2013 at 8:55 pm
joe May 15, 2013 at 5:04 pm

wish they would just drop billions of micro complex sensers across the battlefiled to cruch incoming data so that we know sea virtualy realtime threts activities ect ect


E.fulton November 26, 2013 at 2:13 am

Micro drones are the future like it or not an the smaller with the most capabilities is gonna win out/verses a live human spec.ops in a crawl space tryn to fit whatever optics an hearing devices in multiple areas of the "mission" space. And what better way to control a situation , by a meens that's sifi to most of mainstream America an abroad . Pretty ez to operate a very small bot an deliver a shot to knock out enemy or kill him if nesasarry ..the whole while him or her thinking man I'm tired I will jus take a nap…..an over no loss of life except the 1who needs it….jus my opinion.


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