Tuesday, March 18, 2008

iRobot SUGV FCS Program Had to Contend with Silly Army Specs: Required a Fire Extinguisher on a 30-Pound Robot!

You hate to see annoying things like this that put some truth into the old-joke oxymoron "Military Intelligence": iRobot told the General Accounting Office (GAO) that the Army at one point required the addition of a fire extinguisher to the 30-pound Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle in the Future Combat Systems program, which was impractical. (We note that the whole point of the SUGV is to make it light enough to be easily carried by soldiers in their backpacks). They also wanted the SUGV to be able to stand up to lightning strikes for some reason. (No wonder everything in the military costs so much!)

Here's the key quote from the GAO report:
For example, developers at iRobot told us they received poorly defined requirements which specified that the small unmanned ground vehicle have a fire extinguisher onboard and be able to withstand direct lightning strikes. Since the small unmanned ground vehicle is a small man-packable robot, these requirements were not practical, but the Army and LSI failed to realize the fundamental differences between this small robot and its other unmanned ground vehicles such as the Multifunction Utility/Logistics Equipment vehicle, which is a 2-1/2 ton vehicle, compared to the small unmanned ground vehicle, which weighs less than 30 pounds.
The GAO report is available here.

Reporter Bob Brewin over at GovExec uncovered this doozy, and comments:
I once toted a humongous load on my back as a Marine radio operator, and if someone told me I also had to hump around a four-pound fire extinguisher, I would apply good grunt logic and throw it away.
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Anonymous said...

It was supposed to have a tow hitch as well...

thorn_stevens said...