Tag Archives: ARL

‘Phantom head’ may one day take guesswork out of EEG monitoring

David Hairston, a neuroscientist at the Army Research Lab’s Human Research and Engineering Directorate, built a phantom head to calibrate electroencephalography machines. This could revolutionize the medical and research communities. (U.S. Army photo illustration by Peggy Frierson)

By David VergunArmy News Service

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

Robo-Raven may one day fly for Soldiers

John W. Gerdes III, mechanical engineer at the Vehicle Technology Directorate, prepares to fly Robo-Raven at Aberdeen Proving Ground’s Spesutie Island Robotics Research Facility on Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, Nov. 3, 2015. (U.S. Army photo by C. Todd Lopez)

By David VergunArmy News Service

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.

Army’s MIND Lab able to decode brain waves

Dr. Anthony Ries instructs Pfc. Kenneth Blandon on how to play a computer game, using only his eyes to control the direction of fire of a bubble-shooting cannon at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Nov. 3, 2015. Ries is a cognitive neuroscientist, who studies visual perception and target recognition. Blandon is a mechanic with the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives Command. (U.S. Army photo by C. Todd Lopez)

By C. Todd LopezArmy News Service

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

Army researchers connect with partners at APG Open Campus Open House

Dr. Thomas Russell (right), director of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, speaks during the Open Campus Open House at Aberdeen Proving Ground’s Mallette Auditorium Nov. 4, 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

Army researchers connect with partners at APG Open Campus Open House

By Dan Lafontaine, RDECOM Public Affairs

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Nov. 5, 2015) — The U.S. Army research community joined its counterparts in academia and industry to discuss better collaboration techniques during a conference Nov. 3–4.

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory, or ARL, held its second Open Campus Open House at APG’s Mallette Auditorium with about 700 fellow researchers from across the country.

ARL Director Dr. Thomas Russell led an hour-long question-and-answer panel discussion with the audience. Eight ARL researchers who manage the lab’s Science and Technology Campaigns joined Russell.

The dialogue focused on improving shared research interests to support U.S. national security priorities.

“Any partnership that is successful is going to be based on mutual trust. Engage as early as possible to develop a true relationship,” Russell said.

Rucksack may someday power Soldiers’ gear

Pfc. Austin Penwell takes a spin on the treadmill, wearing the Energy Harvesting Backpack. (U.S. Army photo Todd Lopez)

By David Vergun, Army News Service

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

Army to recruit up to 70 researchers for California laboratory

As part of their research to improve human-computer interaction, ICT researchers and engineers experiment with delivering virtual humans over mobile phones. (U.S. Army photo by Stephanie Kleinman)

By Joyce M. Conant, ARL Public Affairs and Orli Belman, ICT

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Nov. 3, 2015) — As part of an initiative to spur scientific breakthroughs, the U.S. Army Research Laboratoryplans to recruit up to 70 researchers to be based at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies in Playa Vista, California.

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

Student’s research continues to develop at Army Research Laboratory

Ben Burke’s summer project at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory 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. Shown with Burke (center) are his mentors, Alfred Yu (left) and Dave Hairston. (U.S. Army photo by Joyce Conant)

By Joyce M. Conant, ARL Public Affairs

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

Army illustrator helps researchers

Autumn Kulaga is a biomedical illustrator at ARL. She uses CT scans to create a variety of 2-D and 3-D medical illustrations and animations, other graphic designs, data visualizations and 3-D models. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

ARL Public Affairs

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, MD (October 27, 2015) — An Army artist is making a difference at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.

Autumn Kulaga is a biomedical illustrator at ARL. She uses CT scans to create a variety of 2-D and 3-D medical illustrations and animations, other graphic designs, data visualizations and 3-D models. All of these are used to clearly and succinctly communicate and visualize the injuries sustained.

Depicting injuries is not always easy using injury photographs and medical imaging, such as computerized tomography, or CT, scans. Scans do not necessarily highlight the injury of interest and, as a result, include unnecessary information such as unaffected body tissue and non-related injuries. They also sometimes reveal personally identifying features. Also, customers served by the ARL Survivability/Lethality Analysis Directorate, known as ARL-SLAD, are often not experts in anatomy, and benefit from illustrations to understand and analyze the injury depicted. ARL develops custom medical art and illustrations to help analysts visualize, archive and communicate pertinent information about injuries.

“I have always gravitated towards art and science,” Kulaga said. “To me these subjects are symbiotic, and therefore medical illustration seemed like a great path forward for my career. Not only does this let me use my creative talents on a daily basis, but I am constantly learning new material as I become involved in different projects.” Continue reading

Army unveils Excalibur, one of the world’s top 20 supercomputers

Army officials said more powerful computers will allow the DOD research community to develop solutions to the most difficult technological challenges. (U.S. Army illustration)

By Dan Lafontaine, RDECOM Public Affairs

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Oct. 16, 2015) — The U.S. Army introduced its newest supercomputer, Excalibur, which will help to ensure Soldiers have the technological advantage on the battlefield, officials said.

The Excalibur is the 19th most powerful computer in the world. About 50 officials gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory Department of Defense Supercomputing Resource Center.

Increased computational capabilities will allow researchers bring improved communications, data and intelligence to Soldiers in the field, said Maj. Gen. John F. Wharton, commanding general of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command.

DARPA’s Warrior Web project may provide super-human enhancements

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Warrior Web program seeks to create a soft, lightweight under-suit that would help reduce injuries and fatigue and improve Soldiers’ ability to efficiently perform their missions. (DOD photo)

By David McNally, RDECOM Public Affairs

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Dismounted Soldiers carrying full battle gear are pushed to their physical limits. Soldiers often heft 100 pounds or more of essentials. How the Soldier of the future maintains a decisive edge may lie in innovations developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as DARPA.

“That load is a critical issue,” said Lt. Col. Joe Hitt, a former Warrior Web program manager. “In Warrior Web, we want to explore approaches which make that kind of load feel, in terms of the effort to carry it, as if its weight has been cut in half. That’s the goal.”

DARPA launched the Warrior Web program in September 2011, seeking to create a soft, lightweight undersuit to help reduce injuries and fatigue while improving mission performance.

“The number one reason for discharge from the military in recent years is musculoskeletal injury,” Hitt said. “Warrior Web is specifically being designed to address the key injuries at the ankle, knee, hip, lower back and shoulders.”

Army researchers have been evaluating prototype devices for DARPA at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

Researchers from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering spent the past several years developing a biologically inspired smart suit that aims to boost efficiency through a new approach. A series of webbing straps contain a microprocessor and a network of strain sensors.

Spc. Rafael Boza, a Soldier from the 1st Infantry Division, tests the prototype smart suit on a three-mile course of paved roads and rough terrain at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Oct. 3, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Tom Faulkner)

“The suit mimics the action of leg muscles and tendons so a Soldier’s muscles expend less energy,” said Dr. Ignacio Galiana, a robotics engineer working on the project.

Galiana said the team looked to nature for inspiration in developing cables and pulleys that interact with small motors to provide carefully timed assistance without restricting movement.

DARPA selected the U.S. Army Research Laboratory to evaluate several Warrior Web prototypes at the Soldier Performance and Equipment Advanced Research facility, or SPEAR.

Army’s ‘extreme batteries’ research center taps local experts

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is a leader in electrolyte chemistry used to make high energy dense batteries to develop new ways for U.S. land forces to store energy in an operational environment. (U.S. Army photo by Tom Faulkner)

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is a leader in electrolyte chemistry used to make high energy dense batteries to develop new ways for U.S. land forces to store energy in an operational environment. (U.S. Army photo by Tom Faulkner)

By Joyce P. Brayboy, U.S. Army Research Laboratory

  • ARL scientists are on a search for advanced battery chemistries.
  • The Army’s Center for Research in Extreme Batteries will host a meeting this spring for experts interested in taking part.

ADELPHI, Md. — The U.S. Army’s Center for Research in Extreme Batteries strengthens bonds between partners who want to solve practical battery problems.

Officials held the inaugural Power and Energy innovation workshop in 2014 to get local experts in batteries and materials talking, for an integrated, cross disciplinary look at challenges that may have solutions beneficial to all.

The workshop kicked off the Center for Research in Extreme Batteries as a regional hub in advancing battery chemistries with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, or ARL, as the lead, and University of Maryland as the co-lead of the newly forming center.

Dr. Kang Xu, explained to the crowd of more than 100 leading experts from the local universities, government labs and industry that the ground forces reliance on energy in places beyond traditional grid access has led ARL scientists on a search for advanced battery chemistries that are beyond the expertise of government laboratories alone.

An expert in his own right, and best known in the field for his two comprehensive reviews on electrolyte materials, published at Chemical Reviews in 2004 and 2014, respectively, Xu asked the on-looking members of government, university and industry organizations for their help.

“In order for the real advances in energy storage technology to happen, a lot needs to be understood at fundamental levels, and we will have to extend the current expertise. It’s not enough to just have me or our other group members inside ARL. We will have to include a lot of other disciplines and form a team that is strongly associated by complementing expertises,” Xu said.

The concept of the center started with Xu and Dr. Chunsheng Wang, associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering within the Clark School of Engineering, University of Maryland, using their complementary experience in electrolytes and electrodes, respectively, to build up to advances in rechargeable batteries over the course of years. They co-authored a number of publications in scientific journals of high-impact numbers, and were funded by Department of Energy.

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Army science, technology team advances language translation in Africa

Members of the Zambian Defense Force march with U.S. Army soldiers during the opening day ceremony for Exercise Southern Accord in Lusaka, Zambia on Aug. 4. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Kimball)

Members of the Zambian Defense Force march with U.S. Army soldiers during the opening day ceremony for Exercise Southern Accord in Lusaka, Zambia on Aug. 4. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Kimball)

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Aug. 5, 2015) — A U.S. Army team is testing and helping to develop a language translator to enable Soldiers communicate with their African counterparts.

Improving the ability of American service members to communicate in foreign languages, particularly in French dialects, is becoming critical in Africa, said Maj. Eddie Strimel, the Field Assistance in Science and Technology, or FAST, advisor assigned to U.S. Army Africa, or USARAF.

U.S. Soldiers conduct training and exercises regularly in about 20 of Africa’s 54 countries, he said.

“We believe Africa is a future frontier for technology in the next 10 to 15 years. French is a priority for us. If we can get these dialects developed with this type of system, it will benefit the Army, Air Force and Marines down the road,” he said.

FAST advisors, both uniformed officers and Army civilians, are a link between Soldiers in the field and the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s subject matter experts.

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Army researchers develop batteries that don’t corrode

Kang Xu, an Army Research Laboratory scientist, is one of the inventors responsible for a 30-percent increase in energy density in lithium batteries. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

Kang Xu, an Army Research Laboratory scientist, is one of the inventors responsible for a 30-percent increase in energy density in lithium batteries. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

By C. Todd Lopez, Army News Service

New, lighter batteries are under development for Soldiers now, in-house, at the Army Research Laboratory at Adelphi, Maryland.

Chemists at the lab here do materials research on lithium ion batteries and other advanced battery chemistry in an effort to support the warfighter.

“We help to develop new battery materials that are lighter and last longer for the Soldier, so he doesn’t have to carry so many batteries,” said Cynthia Lundgren, a chemist and Chief of the Electrochemistry Branch of the Power and Energy Division in the Sensors and Electron Devices Directorate.

To create a better battery, Lundgren and her team experiment with small “button cells,” such as what one might find in a watch. A “cell” consists of two electrodes: an “anode,” which is the side marked with a “minus” sign; and a metal oxide or phosphate cathode, which bears the “plus” sign. Between these two electrodes is a liquid electrolyte soaked separator that facilitates the transfer of lithium ions to transfer charge. One or more of these “cells” is used to construct a battery pack.

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Designing exoskeletons: Army researcher’s interest in robotics leads to innovative device

Dan Baechle from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory Multifunctional Materials research team has created a laboratory prototype of a device he designed to sense and damp out arm tremors for Army marksmanship training. His concept demonstrates the simple, control scheme has potential to correct involuntary tremors in shooting. Research Assistant Sean Averill, an incoming sophomore at Drexel University who majors in mechanical engineering, has been working with Baechle on the project for the last seven weeks. (U.S. Army photo by Doug LaFon)

Dan Baechle from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory Multifunctional Materials research team has created a laboratory prototype of a device he designed to sense and damp out arm tremors for Army marksmanship training. His concept demonstrates the simple, control scheme has potential to correct involuntary tremors in shooting. Research Assistant Sean Averill, an incoming sophomore at Drexel University who majors in mechanical engineering, has been working with Baechle on the project for the last seven weeks. (U.S. Army photo by Doug LaFon)

By Joyce P. Brayboy, ARL Public Affairs

Dan Baechle had a childhood fascination with robotics and exoskeletons since he first saw Caterpillar’s Power Loader full-body exoskeleton from Aliens. Robotic exoskeletons have been a science fiction theme and an engineering feat since the 1960s.

Practical design techniques that allow a fictional character to be stronger, more powerful or more functional intrigues engineers toward simplicity in futuristic innovation.

At the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, or ARL, Baechle, a mechanical engineer, is testing MAXFAS, a mechatronic arm exoskeleton, which is designed so that it could be used to train new Soldiers to reach shooting proficiency faster.

The near-future vision for the developmental test system is that it would be a training device to help new recruits with novice marksmanship skills and generally help increase combat arms shooting performance on the battlefield.

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Virtually Human: Researchers explore powerful medium for experiential learning

In the Army’s Emergent Leader Immersive Training Environment, or ELITE, soldiers hone their basic counseling skills through practice with virtual humans like virtual Staff Sergeant Jessica Chen.

In the Army’s Emergent Leader Immersive Training Environment, or ELITE, soldiers hone their basic counseling skills through practice with virtual humans like virtual Staff Sergeant Jessica Chen.

By Orli Belman, USC Institute for Creative Technologies

New research aims to get robots and humans to speak the same language to improve communication in fast-moving and unpredictable situations.

Scientists from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies are exploring the potential of developing a flexible multi-modal human-robot dialogue that includes natural language, along with text, images and video processing.

“Research and technology are essential for providing the best capabilities to our warfighters,” said Dr. Laurel Allender, director of the ARL Human Research and Engineering Directorate. “This is especially so for the immersive and live-training environments we are developing to achieve squad overmatch and to optimize Soldier performance, both mentally and physically.”

The collaboration between the Army and ICT addresses the needs of current and future Soldiers by enhancing the effectiveness of the immersive training environment through the use of realistic avatars, virtual humans and intelligent agent technologies, she said.

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Computers harness language translation

Afghan Army doctors in a clinic adjacent to Forward Operating Base Lightning and outside the city of Gardez in Paktia Province, Afghanistan, received copies of the critical care manual translated during a partnership between doctors who were in the region and U.S. Army Research Laboratory researchers using computer translation technology. (U.S. Army photo)

Afghan Army doctors in a clinic adjacent to Forward Operating Base Lightning and outside the city of Gardez in Paktia Province, Afghanistan, received copies of the critical care manual translated during a partnership between doctors who were in the region and U.S. Army Research Laboratory researchers using computer translation technology. (U.S. Army photo)

By Joyce P. Brayboy, ARL Public Affairs

While leading a medical training team in Kabul, Afghanistan, a U.S. Navy commander became frustrated as he faced the challenge of interpreting complex medical information.

Commander Kurt Henry was seeing cases of intestinal tuberculosis that he knew were treatable, but the regional hospital’s critical care unit did not have medical manuals to provide treatment instruction for newly assigned doctors.

When he scanned the Internet for documentation about treatment options, he only came across information written in English. His team spoke the native language of the Afghan people, Dari, recalled Steve LaRocca, computer scientist and team chief at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.

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Advanced dashboard may change the future of Army aviation

ARL's futuristic dashboard would give air traffic controllers, maintainers, and commanders a clear view of the health, usage, and location of any air, ground or unmanned vehicle in their fleet at anytime, anywhere in the world. But inside the vehicle, pilots or other operators would see the Vehicle State Awareness Capability screens, which signal to them the current maneuver capability of the vehicle as well as the health status of critical systems (e.g., propulsion, drive-train, structures) Maintenance operators, and most likely commanders, would focus on the Aviation Tactical Operation Panel, which can give them real time assessments of any vehicle damage, stress or fatigue.

ARL’s futuristic dashboard would give air traffic controllers, maintainers, and commanders a clear view of the health, usage, and location of any air, ground or unmanned vehicle in their fleet at anytime, anywhere in the world. (U.S. Army illustration)

By T’Jae Ellis, ARL Public Affairs

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — A futuristic dashboard could change the way Army aviation operates, allowing for autonomous location tracking and updates on the health of an aircraft even at the material level.

U.S. Army Research Laboratory scientists are conceptualizing technologies to deliver a more accurate and real-time view into aircraft operations of the future.

Today’s black boxes capture basic flight operational information and are not for real-time monitoring. However, possibly three decades from now, Army researchers hope to provide automated real-time solutions for aviators to safely complete their missions, according to Dy Le, an ARL division chief who specializes in sciences for maneuver.

“It’s an integrated capability designed to automatically gauge changes in air, ground, and autonomous systems vehicles’ functional state at the material level; assess vehicles’ maneuvering capabilities taken into account of measured functional state in the context of upcoming or even ongoing missions; and enable operators or Soldiers to maneuver accordingly to achieve mission requirements,” Le said.

The system is called VRAMS, or the Virtual Risk-informed Agile Maneuver Sustainment Intelligent State Awareness System.

Total awareness of location and status of all air assets would provide Army commanders with enhanced situational awareness and the decisive edge. But researchers are also aware of the importance of protecting this information.

“This is one of the challenges that we will be working on as we progress through various stages of VRAMS maturation,” Le said. “Data/information assurance to protect aircraft position/identity is one of critical pieces to safeguarding the national aviation infrastructure from real cyber attacks.”

The dashboard framework would depend on technologies that currently do not exist but would help air traffic controllers, maintenance teams and commanders detect real and potential system and component damage of aircraft.

The concept was inspired by Dr. Bill Lewis, U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center Aviation Development director, whose desire was to have fatigue-free aircraft to protect from aircraft catastrophic failures, as well as to reduce operation and sustainment costs.

The project hopes to achieve the Army sustainment goal, for example, zero-maintenance, by containing or eliminating aircraft structural fatigue using the VRAMS Intelligent State Awareness System.

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Seeking the ethical robot

Dr. Ronald Arkin speaks to robotics researchers about developing ethical systems Sept. 10, 2014, at a U.S. Army Research Laboratory Colloquium at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. (U.S. Army photo by Doug Lafon)

Dr. Ronald Arkin speaks to robotics researchers about developing ethical systems Sept. 10, 2014, at a U.S. Army Research Laboratory Colloquium at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. (U.S. Army photo by Doug Lafon)

By David McNally, RDECOM Public Affairs

Scientists and engineers from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory gathered Sept. 10, 2014 to discuss ethical robots.

Dr. Ronald C. Arkin, a professor from Georgia Tech, roboticist and author, challenged Army researchers to consider the implications of future autonomous robots.

“The bottom line for my talk here and elsewhere is concern for noncombatant casualties on the battlefield,” Arkin said. “I believe there is a fundamental responsibility as scientists and technologists to consider this problem. I do believe that we can, must and should apply this technology in this particular space.”

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Researchers test insect-inspired robot

These nano-quads are the size that the U.S. Army Research Laboratory Micro-Autonomous Systems Technology consortium of researchers envision. The current state is about as compact as a microwave oven. (Photo courtesy of KMel robotics)

These nano-quads are the size that the U.S. Army Research
Laboratory Micro-Autonomous Systems Technology consortium of researchers envision. The current state is about as compact as a microwave oven. (Photo courtesy of KMel robotics)

By Joyce P. Brayboy, ARL Public Affairs

Army researchers are finding they have much to learn from bees hovering near a picnic spread at a park.

Dr. Joseph Conroy, an electronics engineer at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, part of the Research, Development and Engineering Command, works with robotic systems that can navigate by leveraging visual sensing inspired by insect neurophysiology.

A recently developed prototype that is capable of wide-field vision and high update rate, hallmarks of insect vision, is something researchers hope to test at the manned and unmanned teaming, or MUM-T exercise at the Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning, Georgia. This project will give us a chance to implement methods of perception such as 3-D mapping and motion estimation on a robotics platform, Conroy said.

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Army evaluates DARPA’s futuristic soft exosuit

Army researchers evaluate a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Warrior Web prototype at the Soldier Performance and Equipment Advanced Research facility, at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Oct. 2, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Tom Faulkner)

Army researchers evaluate a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Warrior Web prototype at the Soldier Performance and Equipment Advanced Research facility, at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Oct. 2, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Tom Faulkner)

By David McNally, RDECOM Public Affairs

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Oct. 28, 2014) — Army researchers are evaluating prototype devices developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA, Warrior Web program’s goal is to create a soft, lightweight undersuit to help reduce injuries and fatigue, while improving mission performance. DARPA is responsible for the development of new technologies for the U.S. military.

Researchers from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering spent the past two years developing a biologically inspired smart suit that aims to boost efficiency through a new approach. A series of webbing straps contain a microprocessor and a network of strain sensors.

“The suit mimics the action of leg muscles and tendons so a Soldier’s muscles expend less energy,” said Dr. Ignacio Galiana, a robotics engineer working on the project.

Galiana said the team looked to nature for inspiration in developing cables and pulleys that interact with small motors to provide carefully timed assistance without restricting movement. 

Continue reading