Army Technology Live is the official blog of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. It was created to advance the conversation about Army technologies, inform the public about Army initiatives and showcase the work the Army technology team does to make our Warfighters safe and effective.
Biologist Rebecca Jimenez infuses gel samples with fluorescent properties to discover technology solutions to protect Soldiers. (Photo Credit: David McNally)
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Army researchers are studying the physiological effects of blast pressure on the brain to discover technology solutions to protect Soldiers.
Scientists at the Army Research Laboratory, in partnership with the DOD Blast Injury Research Program Coordinating Office, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, are developing nanomaterials to help understand the mechanism of brain injuries when Soldiers are exposed to blast conditions.
They have developed a gel substance with fluorescent properties that mimics the texture and mass of the human brain. Their goal is to show the scale of damage to the brain under the pressure conditions that Soldiers encounter in combat or training.
WASHINGTON (Dec. 29, 2015) — In 2015, the U.S. Army’s homepage published dozens of stories regarding technology being developed by engineers and scientists across the force. Among the topics of interest were developments in power distribution, robotics and network security software.
The editors at Army News Service delved into an array of science and technology reporting from 2015, and pulled just a few topics to highlight here.
GETTING OFF THE GRID
A big vulnerability to Soldiers on installations around the world is dependence on the public electrical grid, said Katherine Hammack, who serves as assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, or ASA (IEE).
Hammack spoke earlier this month during an energy panel in Washington, D.C., Dec. 3. Continue reading →
NATICK, Mass. (Dec. 18, 2015) —Henry Girolamo sees endless possibilities for developing new capabilities for the Soldier under the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center’s collaboration with the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Girolamo is the lead, Emerging Concepts & Technologies, Warfighter Directorate, at NSRDEC, and he is the driving force behind the partnership. He developed and implemented the collaboration, serves as the NSRDEC point of contact and continues to manage the effort, which was formalized in 2014 under a Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU. The USMA key point of contact is Lt. Col. Phil Root with Lt. Col. Paul Evangelista serving as the alternate.
The three-year MOU involves joint research projects and the sharing of training sites, research staff, historical data, field equipment and facilities. At the end of each academic year, several NSRDEC technologies are deployed with cadets during USMA Cadet Leadership Development Training.
For the academic year 2015 to 2016, NSRDEC/USMA will continue research begun last year under the MOU in several areas, including shelter technologies; Soldier microclimate conditioning; biomechanics-focused load carriage solutions; and anthropometric female helmet fit analysis. The new academic year would also continue NSRDEC/USMA’s involvement with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Warrior Web program, which aims to develop a soft, lightweight under-suit that would protect against injury and reduce stress on joints. NSRDEC is working to ensure DARPA’s technology can be integrated into existing Soldier equipment.
For the academic year 2015–16, NSRDEC/USMA have initiated three new areas of research, including meteorological sensing that supports aerial delivery systems; rotor guards and landing chassis to improve durability and enable capabilities for the NSRDEC Soldier-Borne Sensor in micro-unmanned aerial vehicles; and enhancing the potential for vertical takeoff and landing of the platform for micro-unmanned aerial vehicle reconnaissance in subterranean tunnels. Continue reading →
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Dec. 21, 2015) — Army production and logistics is teaming with Army research and development to better streamline the rapid design and fielding of cutting-edge technologies to the Soldier.
“The Army has called for increased innovation, which is shining a spotlight on prototype designs,” said Christopher Manning, Prototype Integration & Testing Division chief, under the Army’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC. “However, it is imperative that our designs can be leveraged for mass production and sustainment.”
CERDEC’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, or C4ISR, Prototype Integration Facility, or C4ISR PIF, designs, tests and builds prototypes using an iterative development process. It is teaming with Tobyhanna Army Depot, or TYAD, which is staffed and equipped as the full-rate production and logistics support facility for C4ISR technologies.
Both organizations are under the U.S. Army Materiel Command’s, or AMC’s, subordinate commands — CERDEC is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command and TYAD is part of the Communications-Electronics Command. AMC provides materiel readiness across the spectrum of joint operations. Its research, development and engineering centers and depots are critical components of the Army’s organic industrial base. Continue reading →
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Dec. 24, 2015) — Electroencephalography, or EEG, has been used for decades to measure voltage fluctuations in different parts of the brain to graph a person’s neural patterns.
IMPORTANCE OF EEG
EEG patterns, or waves, provide insights into what the person is seeing, hearing, thinking and feeling, sort of peering into individual’s mental and emotional state.
Medical facilities use EEGs extensively to test for such things as psychological disorders, brain injuries and monitoring the effects of sedatives and anesthesia.
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory, or ARL, also uses EEGs to help design equipment for Soldiers to help them with complex cognitive tasks, said David Hairston, an ARL neuroscientist here. Continue reading →
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Dec. 18, 2015) — U.S. Army science and technology advisors have initiated a project to field a robot capable of assessing chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, explosives, or CBRNE, threats from a safe distance.
Several Army organizations combined on a new variant of the PackBot 510 robot with enhanced CBRNE detection capabilities.
“These robots are one-of-a-kind and filled a critical gap for Soldiers on the front lines in Korea,” said Lt. Col. Mark Meeker, field assistance in science and technology advisor assigned to U.S. Forces Korea.
ADELPHI, Md. (Dec. 21, 2015) — A U.S. Army Research Laboratory team of researchers was one of three awarded funding in the final phase of the National Football League, Under Armour and General Electric’s Head Health Challenge II with a chance to receive up to $1 million toward head-protection research.
The relationship between ARL and the NFL, Under Armour and GE began in September 2014 when a small team of engineers and the laboratory were named Round One winners of Head Health Challenge II. ARL is working to further research and possibly develop a wearable head-to-body tether system that could reduce the injury potential of head-to-ground impacts.
Earlier this month, ARL members, along with teams from the University of Washington and Viconic Sporting, were announced as final winners and received additional funding to advance their projects.
“The collaboration with the NFL, Under Armour and GE is just one example of the Army collaborating with industry, academia or international partners to tackle a common problem so we can move innovation forward for the Soldier and the nation,” said Maj. Gen. John F. Wharton, commanding general of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, or RDECOM.
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Dec. 10, 2015) — U.S. Army scientists traveled to the National Training Center in October to combine their technical expertise with Soldiers who use their chemical and biological solutions in the field.
To gain a greater appreciation of Soldiers’ challenges, eight scientists participated in a new program, Scientist in the Foxhole, at Fort Irwin, California.
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency created the program with the U.S. Army 20th CBRNE Command at the beginning of 2015. This trip was the program’s second event.
Scientists were selected from DTRA’s Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Enterprise. Three were ECBC scientists: Dr. Jennifer Sekowski, Dr. Alex Miklos and Dr. Jason Guicheteau.
“When we arrived, the installation was engaged in a massive training exercise, a force of 5,000 Soldiers against a red team of 1,000 Soldiers staged as an insurgency in a fictitious Middle East country,” Sekowski said. “The National Training Center is over 1,000 square miles with terrain and temperature extremes that closely resemble the conditions in the Middle East.
“The Army had even set up mock villages, and with the help of ECBC training personnel, mock chemical and biological production laboratories and storage areas.”
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Nov. 9, 2015) — Carnegie Mellon University and Sikorsky Aircraft, using a U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center UH-60MU Black Hawk helicopter enabled with Sikorsky’s MATRIX™ Technology and CMU’s Land Tamer autonomous Unmanned Ground Vehicle, recently participated in a joint autonomy demonstration that proved the capability of new, ground-air cooperative missions.
Future technology may prevent warfighter exposure to hazardous conditions, such as chemical or radiological contaminated areas.
“The teaming of unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned ground vehicles like what was demonstrated here has enormous potential to bring the future ground commander an adaptable, modular, responsive and smart capability that can evolve as quickly as needed to meet a constantly changing threat,” said Dr. Paul Rogers, director, U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, or TARDEC.
“The cooperative effort between the Army labs, academia and industry to bring solutions to the warfighter is exciting to see,” Rogers said. Continue reading →
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Nov. 6, 2015) — In the future, it’s possible that some unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, might sport wings that flap like a bird or a butterfly.
The Army Research Lab, or ARL, is testing that concept at the Spesutie Island Robotics Research Facility on Chesapeake Bay.
John W. Gerdes III, mechanical engineer at the Vehicle Technology Directorate, has been testing such a UAV, known as Robo-Raven. He designed the vehicle in collaboration with the University of Maryland.
During an open house Nov. 3, Gerdes took Robo-Raven for three test flights. He held it aloft in his hand, sort of like a falconer might do. With the other hand, he switched on the transmitter — the sort found in hobby shops for drones and toy vehicles.
The wings started flapping immediately as soon as he threw it aloft. Up and away it went, flapping around in a light breeze more like a butterfly than a bird. A gust blew it backward, but Robo-Raven made course corrections on its own so that Gerdes continued to maintain nearly full control of its flight.
After a minute or two, a curious raptor, possibly a hawk, circled Robo-Raven from above. At this point, Gerdes decided to land his mechanical bird. He raised his arm, and Robo-Raven obediently landed on his outstretched hand.
Raptors, if given the chance, will destroy Robo-Raven, he said. Once in the past, he said he flew his bird up to about 300 feet and a falcon dive bombed it, destroying its gossamer wings.
Once the falcon disappeared, Gerdes launched a second flight. This time, a flock of seagulls circled it. Gerdes noted that non-birds of prey will come over to investigate, but will not attack Robo-Raven — at least not yet.
Unfortunately, Gerdes’ landing didn’t go as smoothly as the first and it crashed into the grass nearby. Fortunately, his half-pound bird sustained no damage. Observers wore hard hats and goggles, just to be safe.
Had his Robo-Raven been destroyed in a crash or by a raptor, Gerdes had two backups, each of which looked similar, but were slightly different in shape and size for testing.
The third flight went well and landed back in Gerdes’ hand.
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. (Nov. 9, 2015) — Engineers from the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC, are developing a new propelling charge for the family of 105mm artillery cartridges that are safer for the warfighter by eliminating the use of lead and other toxic substances present in the current charge.
The current propelling charge, called M67, contains seven bags to achieve desired range.
The charge uses a thin lead foil sheet sewn into the zone 5 bag to chemically remove copper that is deposited on the gun tube when a round is fired.
The lead is toxic, and the warfighter is exposed to it in the form of lead foil protruding and flaking from the bags before firing, along with exposure to lead liquid and particulates in the air after the propelling charge is fired.
When a round is fired, copper from the rotating band on the projectile is deposited on the inside of the gun tube. If the copper is not removed, it will begin to affect performance of subsequent rounds, such as decreased muzzle velocity and range.
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Nov. 5, 2015) — In a U.S. Army Research Laboratory facility here called “The MIND Lab,” a desktop computer was able to accurately determine what target image a Soldier was thinking about.
MIND stands for Mission Impact Through Neurotechnology Design, and Dr. Anthony Ries uses technology in the lab to decode the Soldier’s brain signals.
Ries, a cognitive neuroscientist who studies visual perception and target recognition, hooked the Soldier up to an electroencephalogram — a device that reads brain waves — and then had him sit in front of a computer to look at a series of images that would flash on the screen.
There were five categories of images: boats, pandas, strawberries, butterflies and chandeliers. The Soldier was asked to choose one of those categories, but keep the choice to himself. Then images flashed on the screen at a rate of about one per second. Each image fell into one of the five categories. The Soldier didn’t have to say anything, or click anything. He had only to count, in his head, how many images he saw that fell into the category he had chosen. Continue reading →
Students and mentors meet in person during a meet-and-greet for the CERDEC e-mentoring program at the University of Delaware’s Career Services Center Sept. 21. (U.S. Army photo by Allison Barrow)
By Allison Barrow, CERDEC Public Affairs
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Oct. 28, 2015) —College students have a lot of decisions to make: what subject to major in, what concentration to focus on, what internships to apply for, what field they ultimately want to work in, etc.
U.S. Army scientists and engineers are working to make the process a little easier and to increase retention rates among science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, disciplines through a new e-mentoring program.
The U.S. Army’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, program pairs employees with engineering students from the University of Delaware in a year-long e-mentorship in which engineers provide guidance based on their experience as students and professionals in the field. Continue reading →
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. ( Nov. 4, 2015) — A novel attachment to the Soldier’s assault pack might someday reduce the number of batteries carried to power night-vision devices, radios and other equipment, as well as help make dismounted patrols less fatiguing.
Courtney Webster, a biomedical engineer with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, or ARL, is in the middle of testing with her team the prototype Energy Harvesting Backpack at the Soldier Performance and Equipment Advanced Research, or SPEAR, facility here. Continue reading →
WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. (Oct. 30, 2015) — Former Army Secretary John M. McHugh said earlier this year that the way ahead for the Army is to build weapon systems that can be incrementally upgraded to adapt to the realities of the day, but the Watervliet Arsenal isn’t waiting for the future as it is already modifying current weapon systems for the realities of today.
The Arsenal announced today that it has received orders totaling nearly $1.3 million to provide the Army with a new, lightweight bore evacuator for the self-propelled howitzer system, the M109A7. The M109 series howitzer was originally fielded throughout the Army decades ago.
This new evacuator will reduce the weight of the current version, which is made from steel, from 203 pounds to about 110 pounds for the new fiberglass version. Making the gun system lighter is only secondary, however, to the effect of making a rather difficult maintenance job much easier for the artillerymen.
What is also great about going after “incremental” improvements, such as what McHugh suggested, is that the arsenal can field a new product that will provide dramatic improvements for the Soldier in a significantly reduced acquisition window. Continue reading →
ARL West will be the laboratory’s largest outpost and the first one west of the Mississippi. It will leverage USC and regional expertise to broaden its abilities for the discovery, innovation and transition of science and technology. ARL, part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command based in Maryland, is the Army’s central laboratory for internal and external fundamental research.
“USC’s federally-funded computer science research and development has led to technological advances that improve lives for active service members and veterans,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias. “Today’s announcement serves as recognition that ICT has established itself at the national forefront of this important work, and that we have the opportunity to achieve even greater societal benefit through the establishment of this new model of government-university collaboration.” Continue reading →
NATICK, Mass. (Oct. 16, 2015) — Don Holman was raised on a farm in Michigan and served 30 years in the Navy, which makes him a perfect fit to help test whether American warships could one day grow their own fresh vegetables.
Inside a repurposed former refrigerated shipping container tucked behind the Combat Feeding Directorate, or CFD, at U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, Holman has been growing lettuce since August in a climate-controlled, 40-by-8-foot “hydroponic farm.” What will be a year-long effort has been undertaken for the Navy, which aims to explore the capability of growing produce at sea utilizing hydroponics technology.
“I want to see what can grow and what can’t grow,” said Holman, an engineering technician with the Joint Foodservice and Engineering Team at CFD and a retired command master chief. “We want to experiment with all varieties of vegetables and see how much produce we can produce.
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Nov. 2, 2015) — Members of an Army chemical-biological research team set up biological sensors for an operational demonstration at a U.S. military installation in Osan, Republic of Korea.
The Joint United States Forces Korea Portal and Integrated Threat Recognition, known as JUPITR, is a program led by the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense, or JPEO-CBD, and supported by the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, or ECBC, will provide unique biological detection capabilities to address the demand for stronger biosurveillance capabilities on the Korean Peninsula.
ECBC scientists and engineers said they brought, “biosurveillance capabilities into the 21st century.”
“What they all had in common is that they were eager to take on something new, to develop new knowledge,” said Jennifer Thermos, the Assessment of Environmental Detection leg lead for Project JUPITR.
“I handpicked them based on their excitement and enthusiasm for taking on a task as challenging as the Assessment of Environmental Detectors leg of Project JUPITR.” Continue reading →
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Oct. 28, 2015) — Ben Burke’s College Qualified Leadership, or CQL, internship at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s Human Research and Engineering Directorate came to an end this summer when he returned to college at the University of Maryland, College Park, but his project at ARL continues to develop.
Burke’s project focused on the development of a phantom head for testing electroencephalography, or EEG headsets. EEG is the process of measuring electrical activity on the scalp to determine brain function.
Burke, who is majoring in biological sciences with a possible minor in neuroscience, was mentored by Drs. W. David Hairston and Alfred Yu — both of whom are in ARL’s Translational Neuroscience Branch.
“The goal of this project was to design and fabricate a molded human head out of ballistics gel. The mold is based on an MR (magnetic resonance) image of one of our lab members, with some of the facial features anonymized. This image was used to 3-D print an inverse mold, which also contains a specially designed base containing wires to serve as internal electrical sites inside of the head,” said Hairston.
“Since ballistics gel is grossly similar to organic tissue in its conductance profile, the head can then be used as a test fixture with our EEG equipment either to test the equipment’s function, model different sources of environmental noise and how it affects the equipment, or verify different kinds of algorithms that we use for processing or analyzing data.” Continue reading →