RE2 Robotics Inc. said yesterday that it has received $1.1 million in Phase II Small Business Innovation Research funding from the U.S. Army for the Autonomous Casualty Program. The company plans to develop a mobile manipulation robot to enable combat medics to remotely assess injured soldiers and extract them on the battlefield.
Pittsburgh-based RE2 Robotics said it develops intelligent systems for mobile manipulation that can operate in a variety of complex indoor and outdoor environments. They are designed to help humans do their jobs faster and easier in the aviation, defense, energy, and medical industries. RE2 said its systems include robotic arms, intuitive controllers, and advanced autonomy software.
Mobile manipulation to use RE2 arms on FLIR platform
The U.S. Army Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) is supporting the Autonomous Casualty Extraction (ACE) program, which will use RE2’s dual-arm Highly Dexterous Manipulation System (HDMS).
HDMS will be mounted on a Kobra unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) provided by FLIR Systems Inc. The goal is to autonomously locate a casualty in the field. The FLIR Kobra UGV is built specifically for heavy-duty tasks, and it can lift more than 300 pounds.
The mobile robot will enable a combat medic to remotely assess a soldier’s level of injury, autonomously maneuver the injured soldier onto a Casualty Transport Device (CTD), and then tow the injured soldier back to the medic’s location. As part of the program, RE2 will design and develop computer-vision-enhanced casualty recognition and tracking software, as well as casualty maneuvering software.
“A combat medic’s duties are extremely dangerous and demanding, and the extraction of injured soldiers in the field puts them directly in harm’s way,” stated Jorgen Pedersen, president and CEO of RE2 Robotics. “True to our mission at RE2, ACE allows combat medics to evaluate and extract casualties from a remote distance, protecting them from harm so that they can continue their essential work,” said Jorgen Pedersen, president and CEO. “By enabling the safe, autonomous transportation of casualties, ACE will also further develop our growing presence in the medical robotics industry.”
Autonomous Casualty Extraction could have civilian application
The Autonomous Casualty Extraction program is a follow-on to LIFELINE, RE2’s medical module applique kit that enables a single person to lift and stow up to two litters (stretchers) on a vehicle for medical evacuation. ACE will enable medics to autonomously transport casualties to a LIFELINE-enabled ground vehicle, such as an S-MET (Squad-Multipurpose Equipment Transport).
“When combined with LIFELINE, ACE will be a significant step forward in robotics-enabled combat casualty care,” said Dr. Adam Brant, project manager. “This technology provides a critical layer of capability in the advancement of autonomous trauma care, not just on the battlefield, but also in other situations where the treatment of injured or ill persons puts medics at risk.”