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Army offers up to $200,000 for a secure autonomous operating system

Published: 08/18/2023
SBIR Porting RTK

By Daniel Smoot, Office of Army Prize Competitions and Army SBIR Program

WASHINGTON – While the U.S. Army continues to make significant leaps in autonomous capabilities and maturity, it seeks an advanced and secure operating system to enhance its autonomy software library.

Beginning Aug. 24, the Army Small Business Innovation Research Program asks small businesses to submit proposals to demonstrate the feasibility, security and performance of running the Army’s Robotic Technology Kernel and Robotic Operating System over a separation kernel – an operating system that supports and meets critical security and performance requirements. This solution will increase the effectiveness of self-directed vehicles and equipment through a faster, less complex and more secure operating system capable of housing a variety of cross-platform autonomous software.

“A high-assurance kernel for robotic technologies helps support the security, reliability and trustworthiness of critical autonomous systems, ranging from autonomous vehicles to aerospace and the Internet of Things,” said Nicole Fox, the Army SBIR Program’s portfolio manager for autonomy, contested logistics, sustainment, science and technology. “Beyond driving more efficient autonomous capabilities across the U.S. Army, an advanced, security-focused computing platform could reinforce businesses’ cybersecurity offerings in the commercial sector.”

As part of the solicitation, the U.S. Army will evaluate proposals focused on ensuring all robotic technology kernel platforms can leverage the operating system. The technology should work with an RTK-compatible controller across Army operations while offering greater security, speed and efficiency compared to existing systems.

Phase I contract awards up to $200,000

The Army Small Business Innovation Research program will select businesses to receive an Army SBIR Phase I contract worth up to $200,000 each over a six-month performance period. These companies can also potentially earn an additional Army SBIR Phase II contract worth up to $1.9 million over a 24-month performance period.

The solicitation enters pre-release on Aug. 8 and ends on Aug. 23. Qualified small businesses can submit proposals between Aug. 24 and Sept. 26, noon Eastern time. Applicants must submit proposal packages through the Defense SBIR|STTR Innovation Portal.

The Army SBIR Program offers Phase I contracts to small businesses and nontraditional vendors whose solutions offer technical merit, feasibility and commercial potential. The program provides Phase II and Direct to Phase II contracts to firms that can address Army needs and garner increased federal support to mature demonstration-ready solutions.

Small business selectees gain valuable access to technical, acquisition and operational subject matter experts. These specialists guide and inform businesses of the Army’s technological needs as the firms enter the Army research and development ecosystem. Companies can capitalize on collaborating with technical points of contact, who serve as a resource for businesses, while they mature their technologies for eventual insertion into Army acquisition programs.

The Army SBIR Program releases contract opportunities ad hoc to respond to current and anticipated warfighting technology needs. For eligibility information and a list of open topics, please visit the Army SBIR|STTR website.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology leverages technologies and capabilities to provide U.S. Soldiers a decisive advantage in any environment by developing, acquiring, fielding and sustaining the world’s finest equipment and services. For more information, visit the ASA(ALT) web page and follow @ArmyASAALT.

SBIR Porting RTK

Army offers up to $200,000 for a secure autonomous operating system

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