Fort Hood Soldiers Put Army's Latest Robot to the Test

Photo of The Man Transportable Robotic System (MTRS).
Soldiers from the 181st Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Company "Double Dragons," use the Man-Transportable Robotic System Increment II to conduct a CBRN quartering party mission with attached CBRN detection equipment. (Photo: Tad Browning)

Chemical, engineer, and explosive ordnance disposal unit soldiers are joining a National Guard Civil Support Team to put the Army's latest robotic system to the test.

The Man Transportable Robotic System (MTRS) Increment II is designed to provide soldiers with increased standoff capability to detect, confirm, identify, and dispose of hazards in a variety of missions and environments, according to Edward Jagodzinski, test officer with the Army Operational Test Command's Maneuver Support and Sustainment Test Directorate (MS2TD). MTRS is a medium-sized robotic system with modular mission payloads capable of supporting Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Soldiers, engineers, EOD, and Special Operations Forces.

MS2TD designed each unit's test mission to be operationally realistic using input from the units and from each branch's training and doctrine proponent. By the end of these test events, the units will have employed the various systems under test in typical, tactical environments in both daylight and darkness, resulting in realistic training for the units and candid feedback for materiel developers.

"Since operational testing is about soldiers and unit missions," Jagodzinski said, "these test events are about making sure the system is - and remains - effective in a soldier's hands and is suitable for the environments in which they will train and fight."

Soldiers from the 181st Chemical Company's Hazard Assessment Platoon and the National Guard CST deployed the MTRS in urban, interior, and underground terrain in a variety of likely tactical scenarios over eight days. The goal was to evaluate the robot's usefulness in performing their wartime and homeland defense missions, said Jagodzinski.

After the CBRN and CST complete their phase of testing, the engineers and EOD units will get their chance to put the MTRS to task. A route clearance platoon from the 20th Engineer Battalion's 937th Engineer Company (Route Clearance) and EOD teams from the 797th Ordnance Company (EOD) will spend four days executing their core missions, using MTRS in place of their currently fielded TALON II robots.

The soldiers will use the MTRS to locate, identify, and neutralize a variety of simulated explosive hazards such as improvised explosive devices, mines, unexploded ordnance, and weapons caches in a wide variety of terrain and tactical situations. Test soldier feedback - both positive and negative - gathered during the test will provide vital information to the capability developer and the Army Test and Evaluation Command, informing a future decision to field the system to the force.