TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. -- Engineers are conducting testing on robotic unmanned ground vehicles in an effort that could bring future robotics work here.

The Program Manager for Unmanned Ground Vehicles selected Tobyhanna to conduct a proof of concept for potential upgrades to the Army's medium-class robotics fleet.

Responding to urgent warfighter needs in recent conflicts left the Army with a mixed fleet of systems and high sustainment costs. But under the Man Transportable Robotic System's second increment (MTRS Inc II), the Army will move to one Unmanned Ground Vehicle with one configuration.

Electronics technicians in the Communications Systems Directorate are removing all proprietary components in prototype vehicles and replacing them with government-designed components. This allows the Army to compete purchases of replacement parts in the future. Additional changes include replacing the heavy control units with much lighter ruggedized computers running government-designed software.

Chase Gardner, electronics engineer in the Production Engineering Directorate, said success with this effort could lead not only to additional MTRS systems, but other robot overhaul programs as well.

"If we perform well with this project run, it could lead to the production of about 1,200 MTRS kits," said Gardner, adding that further success could lead to obtaining more Army ground robotic systems overhaul workload. This is the second robotics project performed by Tobyhanna, following the iRobot unmanned ground vehicle mission.

Man Transportable Robotic Systems represent common, remotely-operated, tracked vehicle platforms designed to perform buried mine detection, engineer route clearance, special operations, and explosive ordnance disposal missions. Each unit weighs roughly 120 pounds and has a range of 800 meters, providing safety and security for warfighters operating the systems in combat zones.

To prepare for MTRS testing, electronics worker Nicholas Prehotsky and James Serafin, an electronics mechanic, received systems operations training from robotics team personnel at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., Prehotsky has conducted testing on several MTRS systems and recognizes the robot's many capabilities.

"The MTRS robots come equipped with a long list of benefits to Soldiers," said Prehotsky. With four video cameras, a 200 pound towing capacity, and ease of use, these robots present a "highly-innovative solution for warfighters to stay out of harm's way."

During developmental testing, Prehotsky and Serafin control the MTRS from a remote control unit and measure the maximum distance the system can operate before going out of range. Serafin said the process is simple but crucial to the mission--especially for bomb and chemical disposal activities.

"Without an accurate measurement of the system's range, there could be adverse effects once the system is deployed to theater," said Serafin. "Although this is the first phase of the program, we're taking every step to overcome challenges and prepare for any additional robotics programs that may come to Tobyhanna."

Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna's Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C4ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.

Tobyhanna's unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, technology insertion, modification, and global field support to warfighters.

About 3,300 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.