RE2 Robotics, a developer of intelligent mobile manipulation systems, has announced on its website that it has received $1.1 million in Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding from the U.S. Army Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) to develop a mobile robotic manipulation system that will allow combat medics to remotely assess and extract injured soldiers on the battlefield.
The program, called Autonomous Casualty Extraction (ACE), will utilize the Company’s dual-arm Highly Dexterous Manipulation System (HDMS) mounted to a FLIR Kobra unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), provided by FLIR Systems, Inc., to autonomously locate a casualty in the field. The FLIR Kobra UGV is built specifically for heavy-duty tasks and can lift more than 300 pounds. The system 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. 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.”
ACE is a follow-on to LIFELINE, the Company’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.”