The money will be spent on updating an existing 6.5-ton unmanned ground vehicle, nicknamed Crusher, that uses a six-wheel drive and advanced processing to navigate difficult terrain.
The contract comes just a month after the Carnegie Mellon Tartan Racing team won first place in the Darpa Urban Challenge.
"We are delighted that NREC will play a key role in showing how advanced autonomous vehicles work in future combat systems settings," said NREC director John Bares.
"Our goal will be to develop, integrate and test a high-performance unmanned ground vehicle with the most up-to-date mobility and autonomy technologies."
The NREC team will also further improve the vehicle's software to include manoeuvring capabilities in combat and integrate the vehicle into existing military organisations.
Armies around the world are increasingly looking to robotic troops to cut deaths in combat.
The US Army already uses automatic aerial drones, anti-sniper robots and wireless gun platforms in combat and wants a quarter of its transport division automated by 2030.
Carnegie Mellon to build military robot
By Iain Thomson on Dec 4, 2007 7:21AM