The Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing, or ARM Institute, yesterday announced an accelerated call for technology programs to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The “ARM Technology Project Call ARM-TEC-20-02” seeks to identify, fund, and measure results from selected programs within the next two months.
The ARM Institute is a public-private consortium dedicated to helping U.S. manufacturers be competitive through collaborative robotics and workforce development. The Pittsburgh-based organization is part of the Manufacturing USA network and is supported by members and the U.S. Department of Defense. It also won a 2020 RBR50 innovation award.
As the novel coronavirus crisis has continued, demand for robots in production, supply chain, and other industries has changed and grown, noted the institute. “This project call seeks to address the most urgent areas of need using new topic areas and criteria, with an emphasis on tangible and timely results,” it said. The ARM Institute plans to award up to $5 million.
“ARM is proud to mobilize our membership to respond to the urgent needs highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cara Mazzarini, ARM technology portfolio manager, told The Robot Report. “Our members represent the best and brightest in advanced robotics, and the ecosystem is poised to respond to this call with the speed, focus, and creativity needed to make a significant and timely impact.”
This past spring, some ARM members participated in a call from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for technology and workforce proposals related to mitigating COVID-19. That call closed on April 20, and NIST received more than 70 competitive project proposals, which it is still reviewing.
ARM Institute identifies needs for innovators to meet
Specifically, COVID-19 proposals for ARM should address diagnostics, medical care, medical countermeasures, non-medical personal protective equipment (PPE), and other supplies. In addition, ARM said that “projects must be explicitly linked to COVID-19, demonstrating an ability for the U.S. and the Department of Defense to prevent, prepare for, or respond to this and future pandemics.”
“Since technological development occurs in a scaffold of manufacturing needs, our goal is to address the immediate needs for COVID-19 response, as well as open the possibility for a high-impact unforeseen future gain,” said the institute. It said it is looking for automation and intelligent systems proposals to rapidly produce medical equipment, conduct diagnostic tests, and maximize healthcare facilities.
The pandemic project call includes an increase from eight to 12 topic areas with five newly identified market opportunities, noted ARM.
All projects must specify a set of key performance parameters and will be measured against a proposed present baseline, threshold for minimum achievement, and stretch goals, said ARM. Submissions must also meet the “cardinal metrics” of performance, productivity, efficiency, acquisition cost, sustaining cost, and investment “prudency” or return on investment.
The deadline for submissions is July 13, 2020. Final selections will be announced around July 21, and sub-award negotiations will begin on that date.
Contracting materials are due on July 31, and the award expiration and sub-award execution deadlines are on Aug. 11. Target projects must start on or about Aug. 20, according to ARM.
The institute said it will strictly enforce the deadlines, “particularly with respect to the compressed call and contracting timeline, monthly invoicing, and weekly status updates.”