Officials at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency are developing an autonomous robotic system that identifies and maps chemical or biological warfare agent (CWA/BWA) contamination on vehicle surfaces, then decontaminates the surfaces, and clears that vehicle for unrestricted use by the Joint Force.
“After being contaminated with CWA/BWA, large equipment must be thoroughly decontaminated to the lowest field-detectable level for it to be cleared for safe, unrestricted operations,” said William Buechter, Science and Technology Manager at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s (DTRA) Chemical and Biological Technologies Department that serves as the Joint Science and Technology Office (JSTO) for the Defense Department’s Chemical and Biological Defense Program
“These decontamination operations require a large, designated area and immense logistic support such as water, decontaminants, and intensive manpower,” Buechter added. “There is also the risk of spreading contamination during decontamination operations.”
DTRA JSTO is working with researchers from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center (DEVCOM CBC), Ground Vehicle Systems Center, and Army Research Laboratory to develop the Autonomous Decontamination System (ADS) for equipment and wide-area decontamination.
The ADS will be a robotic platform based on the Multi-Utility Tactical Transport – eXpanded Mobility (MUTT-XM) Utility Ground Vehicle produced by General Dynamics Land Systems.
Current U.S. Army doctrine for thorough equipment decontamination demands heavy labor and logistics support. The ADS based on the MUTT-XM will benefit the Joint Service by enabling autonomous decontamination for mission-critical equipment, air platforms, and ground platforms.
“ADS will mitigate chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear contamination using multiple, scalable processes that reduce the hazard, manpower, and time and resources, and increase commanders’ flexibility to support multi-domain operations,” Buechter said.
“This is another technology developed by DTRA JSTO to deter, prevent, and prevail against chemical and biological threats against the Joint Force, nation, and our allies,” said Eric Lowenstein, Acting Deputy Director, DTRA JSTO.