Army researchers envision future robots

 

Army Technology Magazine focuses on robotics and autonomous vehicle research in the November-December 2014 issue.

Army Technology Magazine focuses on robotics and autonomous vehicle research in the November-December 2014 issue.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Nov. 3, 2014) — The U.S. Army is investing in robotics research and development with a vision of increasing autonomy.

“As we plan for the future, we’ve determined that advanced autonomy-enabled technologies will play an even greater role in keeping our Soldiers safe,” said Dr. Paul D. Rogers, director of the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center at the Detroit Arsenal, Warren, Michigan.

In the November/December 2014 issue of Army Technology Magazine, Rogers outlines the future of autonomous vehicles research and development. His aim is not to replace Soldiers, but provide a “continuum of capabilities that will augment and enable them, while filling some of the Army’s most challenging capability gaps.”

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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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Ground Robotics Capabilities Conference and Exhibition

The Disrupter Integration System provides disrupter mounting solutions for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Man Transportable Robotic System robots. By 2021, Army acquisition officials hope to replace current systems with the Man Transportable Robotic System Increment II, known as MTRS Inc II. (U.S. Army photo)

The Disrupter Integration System provides disrupter mounting solutions for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Man Transportable Robotic System robots. By 2021, Army acquisition officials hope to replace current systems with the Man Transportable Robotic System Increment II, known as MTRS Inc II. (U.S. Army photo)

By David McNally, RDECOM Public Affairs

Future Army robotics systems will rely on open architecture, modular design and innovative concepts to perform missions from surveillance to wide area route clearance, according to Army officials.

“In the Army we always say, ‘never send our Soldiers into a fair fight,’” said Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Heidi Shyu said in the keynote address Aug. 13, 2014, to the National Defense Industrial Association Ground Robotics Capabilities Conference and Exhibition in Hyattsville, Maryland.

Hundreds of industry representatives, researchers and engineers gathered for the event, which provided a forum for the industry and government to identify technologies that will help meet future warfighter needs.

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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. 

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