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Marines recruit robots

Written by

Neil Martin

Neil Martin

Oorah.

The US Marines have decided to add the FLIR Centaur robot to their ranks.

Over 140 of the unmanned ground vehicles, plus spares, have been ordered in a deal worth $18.6m.

FLIR Systems, quoted on Nasdaq and based in Arlington, won the contract through the Department of Defense Man Transportable Robotic System Increment II (MTRS Inc II) programme. Now that's a title!

Centaur is a medium-sized UGV that provides a standoff capability to detect, confirm, identify and dispose of hazards (does that include people?). Weighing-in at roughly 160lb, the open-architecture robot features an advanced EO/IR camera suite, a manipulator arm that reaches over six feet and the ability to climb stairs. Modular payloads can be used for CBRNE detection and other missions.

The Marines are in good company, as the US Air Force recently ordered nearly 200 Centaurs. But the US Army got their first, as they chose Endeavor Robotics in 2017, acquired a year ago by FLIR, as its medium-sized robot provider for MTRS Inc II. The company designed the all-new Centaur as its MTRS solution. FLIR is delivering robots in a deal worth $150m, including options. 

“Centaur gives the Marines a multipurpose, mid-sized UGV that will complement the FLIR PackBot, SUGV and FirstLook robots we continue to provide to the Corps,” trumpheted David Ray, president of the Government & Defense Technologies business at FLIR. “We’re honored the Air Force and now Marines are choosing Centaur as an EOD platform-of-choice, and pleased the US Army MTRS Inc II program can serve as a procurement channel.”

Deliveries to the Marines are expected to begin in the third quarter of 2020. 

In case you were wondering why I started the story with Oorah, it’s what they chant in the Marines, like hooah in the US Army and hooyah in the US Navy and US Coast Guard. So there you go.

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