For a select few vendors and government agencies at the 2015 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition, the best place to connect with potential buyers and sellers is the Homeland Security Pavilion.
One small robotics company trumpeted its recent success in outbidding giant competitors for an Air Force contract to develop an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) robot.
Another offered an oral hydration system that reportedly rivals any on the market to date.
Meanwhile, federal agencies such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement want to attract more competition from potential vendors, with the intent of increasing bang for the taxpayer’s buck.
"We’ve had good feedback so far," said Mark Kergan of Roboteam North America, regarding reaction to the company’s latest EOD robotics system.
People know about the recent Air Force contract award, worth $25 million, he said.
"They want to see what’s relevant, and how we beat out our competitors," said Kergan, a former Army EOD specialist.
The robot outperformed competitors because of its light weight – between 25 and 30 pounds, depending on payload – and its ability to climb stairs almost instantly. Competitors’ robots take upward of five minutes to do that, Kergan said.
Retired Army Staff Sgt. Greg Sumerlin, director of military sales for DripDrop Inc., said the San Francisco-based company hopes to gain access to a broader Army market than it currently has.
DripDrop’s product, a drink akin to Pedialyte but stronger, already is in use by Special Operations Forces as well as the U.S. Border Patrol.
"We’re here to promote our product to bigger Army units, to lower IV (intravenous rehydration) rates and heat casualties," Sumerlin said.
While in use at special operations training facilities, DripDrop lowered IV rates by 70 percent, Sumerlin said.
David Sanders, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said his agency’s presence in the pavilion is part of a priority throughout its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security.
"If we have a robust vendor base, it promotes competition, drives down costs, and increases the quality of services," said Sanders, a retired Navy commander.