Petroleum Supply Specialists work together to refuel an AH-64E Apache attack helicopter.
Petroleum Supply Specialists work together to refuel an AH-64E Apache attack helicopter.

RE2 Awarded Contract to Develop Autonomous AH-64 Apache Helicopter Refueling System

RE2 Robotics, a leader in intelligent mobile manipulation systems, has announced that it has received $1 million in funding from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center (AvMC) to develop a robotic system that can autonomously refuel AH-64 Apache helicopters in the field. The project, called Remote Robotic Refueling for Extended Missions (R3EM), is being developed in support of the Autonomous and Robotic Remote Refueling Point (AR3P) program, and being managed by Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center, located in Port Hueneme, California.

“Upon a pilot’s command, this system will quickly and efficiently remove a fuel line from a stored location, engage the fuel line with the Apache helicopter, and then move it back into a stowed position, completely autonomously. Because the system is unmanned, it will enable troops to extend the range of their missions while eliminating the need for soldiers to remain isolated at refueling stations, further reducing the size of a mission’s logistical footprint.,” said Dr. Amanda Sgroi, director of computer vision and autonomy, RE2 Robotics.

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“The R3EM program enables RE2 to apply its next-generation autonomy software and history of robotic arm expertise to a new outdoor application within the Department of Defense. The technology being developed as a result of this aircraft servicing program strategically aligns with our ongoing expansion into the commercial aviation market,” said Jorgen Pedersen, president and CEO of RE2 Robotics.

RE2 Awarded Contract to Develop Autonomous AH-64 Apache Helicopter Refueling System for US Army
RE2 Awarded Contract to Develop Autonomous AH-64 Apache Helicopter Refueling System for US Army

R3EM will use RE2’s proprietary perception software to control a highly dexterous RE2 robotic arm mounted onto an Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV), which will autonomously position and engage a fuel nozzle in the helicopter’s fuel port. Multiple perception sensors will provide 3D situational awareness, allowing the system to operate in an unstructured, outdoor environment. The system will automatically detect when fueling is complete and disconnect the fuel nozzle from the aircraft. RE2 is partnering with Pratt Miller, which is supplying its TMT-I rugged mobile base for the program.

RE2 Robotics develops the RE2 Sapien™ family of intelligent mobile manipulation systems that operate in a variety of complex indoor and outdoor environments for use in the aviation, construction, defense, energy, and medical industries. RE2 Sapien™, have the ability to see, learn, and interact via RE2 autonomy modules – RE2 Detect™ and RE2 Intellect™. RE2’s mission is to develop mobile manipulation systems that empower humans to do their jobs safely and efficiently. RE2’s systems consist of robotic arms, intuitive controllers, and advanced autonomy software. Utilizing computer vision and machine learning, innovative robotic systems can operate with humans in the loop or autonomously depending upon the application. Founded by Jorgen Pedersen, RE2 Robotics is a Carnegie Mellon spinout located in Pittsburgh’s historic Lawrenceville neighborhood in a warehouse that once housed Porter locomotive manufacturing. Today, RE2 is thriving in the Rust Belt and helping organizations across multiple markets improve worker safety, productivity, and efficiency through the use of intelligent mobile robotic solutions.

Petroleum Supply Specialists work together to refuel  an AH-64E Apache attack helicopter.
Petroleum Supply Specialists work together to refuel an AH-64E Apache attack helicopter assigned to Task Force Griffin, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, 7th Infantry Division prepare to depart for a mission in Kunduz, Afghanistan. (Photo by Capt. Brian Harris/16th Combat Aviation Brigade
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