Innovative designs, smart manufacturing deliver Soldier readiness

Gene Curran, senior mechanical engineer, demonstrates the operation of the Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar Live-Fire Test Simulator at Tobyhanna Army Depot. (U.S. Army photo by Kathryn Bailey)

By Kathryn Bailey, CERDEC Command, Power & Directorate

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

‘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.


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

Army technology team helps field robot

The PackBot 510 robot undergoes final testing at the Robot Logistics Support Center. (U.S. Army photo)

By Dan Lafontaine, RDECOM Public Affairs

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.

Army, industry, academia partner to demonstrate new technologies

A U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center UH-60MU Black Hawk helicopter transports an autonomous Unmanned Ground Vehicle. (U.S. Army photo)

AMRDEC Public Affairs

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

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.

U.S. Army engineers develop safer, ‘greener’ propelling charge for 105mm artillery cartridges

Engineers at Picatinny Arsenal 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. Above, Oklahoma National Guardsmen from Battery A, 1st Battalion, 160 Field Artillery, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, fire 105mm Howitzers during annual training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, June 3, 2015. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Bruce, 145th MPAD, Oklahoma Army National Guard)

By Ed Lopez, Picatinny Arsenal Public Affairs

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.

Army e-mentoring program aims to raise STEM graduation rates

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)

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

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.

Maryland General Assembly, Commerce Department meet Team APG Cyber

CERDEC Director Henry Muller (left), Maryland State Senator James Posapepe, U.S. Army CECOM Commanding General and APG Senior Mission Command Maj. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford, Maryland State Senator William Frick, and CECOM Software Engineering Center Director Larry Muzzelo discuss Team APG’s impact on military cyberspace operations Oct. 19, 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Kristopher Joseph)

By Kristen Kushiyama

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md.(Oct. 22, 2015) — Members of the Maryland General Assembly visited one of the state’s largest employers to meet with Army leaders, tour high-tech laboratories and gain a better understanding of the cyber work conducted here Oct. 19.

The Maryland Joint Committee on Cybersecurity, Information Technology and Biotechnology and representatives from the Maryland Department of Commerce learned about various aspects of the Army’s cyber strategy led by organizations that make up the Aberdeen Proving Ground community known as Team APG, which employs more than 21,000 service members, government civilians and contractors.

Team APG leadership said they are moving forward with mapping the future of the installation’s cyber contributions to the Army to include lifecycle management, system vulnerability analysis, training the current and future military and government workforce, and partnering with industry, academia, international allies, and other government labs to develop future tactical cyber capabilities. 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.

Army researchers extend missile system shelf life

Due to the success of an Army inspection program, the average shelf life for missile systems has been extended from 7.9 to 22.6 years. Here, an Air Defense Artillery Patriot missile blazes forth from a remote launch site at McGregor Range, New Mexico, Dec. 8, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Nathan Akridge)

AMRDEC Public Affairs

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Oct. 13, 2015) — As consumers, many of our items contain a “use by” or “best before” date. In the aviation and missile community, the same principle applies to its weaponry arsenal.

The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, or AMRDEC, in conjunction with Program Executive Office Missiles and Space, or PEO MS, and the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command, has designed a program to determine if missiles can be used past their initial shelf life.

AMRDEC, one of six U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command centers, executes this program within its Engineering Directorate.

“This program tests missiles to make sure they are still safe and reliable as the system ages,” said Megan Shumate, AMRDEC general engineer. “All missiles have an initial shelf life from the date of manufacture. The Stockpile Reliability Program [SRP] evaluates the missiles as they approach their shelf life expiration to see if we can extend the useful life of system to make the Army’s return on investment greater.”

The SRP is the sole mechanism for assuring the continued safety, reliability, performance and availability of the U.S. Army missile inventory per Army Regulations 702–6 and 740–1. AMRDEC, PEO MS and Army Aviation and Missile Command, or AMCOM, collaborate to plan, execute and manage the SRP for all U.S. Army missile systems. Continue reading

Scarf-like mask can protect at a moment’s notice

Army researchers have developed a simple, comfortable wrap styled respiratory protective mask for protection against riot control agents. (U.S. Army photo)

ECBC Public Affairs

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Oct. 20, 2015) — Army researchers have developed a simple, comfortable wrap-style respiratory protective mask for protection against riot control agents. The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, known as ECBC, is making it as a simple as putting on a surgical mask.

ECBC researchers Dave Caretti, Dan Barker, and Doug Wilke, developed the idea for the solution from specialized operators who expressed a need for a protective mask to protect against riot control agents such as 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile, also known as CS, or tear gas.

The operators also wanted a mask that could protect users who have beards, or must operate with other unique head-borne equipment.

Currently, users wear a traditional full general protective mask when disseminating riot agent. This mask is a hard material and the user must remove any existing equipment on their face in order to put it on. This process can take time that operators might not have during emergency situations.

“The solution we envisioned would easily integrate with the user’s helmet, communications headphones and protective eyewear, so that it could provide a simple solution for all users,” Caretti said.

Members of law enforcement who use CS and other riot control agents could also use this type of mask when necessary and avoid wasting time with a traditional full face piece respirator that requires the removal of protective helmets and other head-borne items.

In order to begin work on this proposed solution, Caretti, Barker and Wilke entered their proposal for the mask they called the “Integrated Respiratory and Eye Protective Scarf,” or IREPS to to the research center’s Internal Innovative Development of Employee Advanced Solutions Program. Continue reading

Army-defined open standards pave the way for RF convergence

By Kashia Simmons & Kelly White, CERDEC Public Affairs

MORA provides the fundamental building blocks to enable the future force to dominate the electromagnetic spectrum and to be lighter and more agile in adapting to emerging threats. (U.S. Army illustration)

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (October 20, 2015) — The Army’s first of its kind modular, open system architecture is setting the stage for the future of hardware and software convergence after months of development from the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC.

The Modular Open Radio Frequency Architecture, or MORA, will open radio frequency interfaces to enable rapid insertion of new capabilities and broader interoperability as well as reduce size, weight and power, or SWaP, for future ground vehicles.

“One thing we know about the future is that we don’t know what the future holds,” said Ben Peddicord, chief, CERDECIntelligence and Information Warfare Directorate’s Intel Technology and Architecture Branch. “The interfaces that have been exposed to MORA were chosen based on an analysis of the capabilities we’ve wanted to field over the last 15 years.”

Compared to a traditional radio solution, MORA provides the system integrator with greater flexibility when addressing technical challenges and the ability to insert third-party capabilities.

According to Peddicord, nearly all military platforms — to include Soldiers — have RF devices on them, making MORA an important element of hardware and software convergence because of its ability to share hardware assets across the platform.

Natick researcher collaborates with North Carolina State on textile technologies

Researchers say Soldiers will have extra power capabilities built into the uniform, with no added weight penalty. Here, Spc. Travis Williams, a grenadier with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, looks through the the sights of his M320 grenade launcher March 24, 2013, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

By Jane Benson, NSRDEC Public Affairs

NATICK, Mass. (Oct. 15, 2015) — Army researchers are partnering with universities to improve Soldier capabilities and protection.

At the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC, senior research biologist Kris Senecal collaborates withNorth Carolina State University, which has resulted in the development of nonwoven, multifunctional materials. Senecal partnered with NC State’s Nonwovens Institute, or NWI.

Natick researcher Kris Senecal collaborates with North Carolina State University to develop nonwoven, multifunctional materials. In a separate effort, she is working with the NC State Nanotechnology Initiative, to develop textile coatings to increase capabilities on existing fabric systems. (U.S. Army photo by David Kamm)

In a separate effort, Senecal is developing novel textile coatings using atomic layer deposition, or ALD, with Dr. Gregory Parsons, director of the NC State Nanotechnology Initiative. Continue reading

Army, commercial fleet partnership comes to Detroit Arsenal

Army and civilian engineers exchanged information on future military and commercial vehicle capabilities at a Detroit forum, Sept. 30, 2015. (U.S. Army illustration by James Scott)

By Douglas Halleaux, TARDEC Public Affairs

DETROIT ARSENAL, Mich. (Oct. 7, 2015) — Representatives of the national leadership for the High-Efficiency Truck Users Forum, or HTUF, visited the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, or TARDEC, Sept. 30, 2015, to exchange information on the newest military and commercial vehicle capabilities.

The forum is in its 14th year, and this is the first time the meeting is being held at TARDEC. HTUF is a program managed and funded mostly by TARDEC’s National Automotive Center, or NAC.

A private organization known as CALSTART, which is dedicated to the growth of clean transportation technologies industry, has operated the program since its inception. It brings fleets, truck original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs, suppliers and other industry stakeholders together to ensure future product offerings are capable of meeting high-efficiency military needs.

HTUF includes OEMs and their major suppliers that market both military and commercial products with common technologies. The members envisioned this meeting to be a catalyst for making change happen in the high-efficiency truck and bus arena.

“HTUF is focused on driving high-efficiency technology adoption in medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that support military and commercial requirements,” said Bill Van Amburg, CALSTART Senior Vice President.

Armament engineers use ultrasound to develop safer, better ordnance

Viral Panchal and Rajen Patel, engineers at the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, display the pieces that make up the ultrasound technology for propellants. (U.S. Army photo by Todd Mozes)

By Lauren Poindexter and Ed Lopez, Picatinny Arsenal Public Affairs

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. (Oct. 7, 2015) — Engineers are using ultrasound technology to more easily find defects during the manufacture of ordnance as a way to lower costs, produce more effective ordnance and provide an added measure of safety for Soldiers in the field.

At the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC, engineers want to remove the “black box” that surrounds the production of energetic materials. In the context of defense research, “energetics” is a short-hand term for materials such as explosives, propellants and pyrotechnics.

“We have this black box and it’s currently hard to see inside with the technology that is available,” said chemical engineer Viral Panchal.

“Ultrasound gives us the ability to open up the box, leading to more effective research, development and manufacturing,” Panchal added.

ARDEC engineers have been working with Wes Cobb at the University of Denver, who has decades of experience developing ultrasound technology for the food, oil and medical industries.

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.

America’s Army: Proving Grounds launches on Steam

The free game has more than 920,000 player accounts, created during the beta period, and over 7.7 million hours of play. (U.S. Army illustration)

AMRDEC Public Affairs

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Oct. 7, 2015) — The U.S. Army has fully launched the free America’s Army: Proving Grounds game on Steam. The game, which was released in beta in August 2013, had more than 920,000 player accounts created during the beta period and over 7.7 million hours of play.

Players can register their Soldier name for the game at the America’s Army: Proving Ground website and download the game from Steam.

“We received great feedback from our fans during the beta and with the help of our community we greatly improved the AA:PG game and experience,” said Daniel Kolenich, executive producer for America’s Army. “We’ve also been blown away by some of the great creations by our fans who used our AA Mission Editor to recreate some of their favorite maps from the franchise and develop new styles of game play that AA players are already loving.”

America’s Army is developed by the Army Game Studio, which falls under the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Software Engineering Directorate. The Studio operates in support of the Army Marketing and Research Group.

Bringing the best features of the previous versions to a new America’s Army environment, AA: PG stresses small unit tactical maneuvers and training that resembles the current day Army. AA: PG showcases the Army by emphasizing Army values, teamwork, training and completing the objectives through game-play that reflects the Soldier’s Creed.

The future of Army aviation research

Dr. Bill Lewis is the director of the Aviation Development Directorate for the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research and Development Center at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. (U.S. Army photo by Russ Wetzel)

“As we progress to a more expeditionary force, an essential component will be more capable air assets. I can’t envision an expeditionary force that doesn’t include aircraft capable of self deployment and extended range operations,” — Dr. Bill Lewis

Army Technology Magazine interviewed one of the U.S. Army’s leading aviation researchers, Dr. Bill Lewis, asking about the future of Army Aviation.

Q&A with a leading Army aviation engineer

Dr. Bill Lewis is the director of the Aviation Development Directorate for the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research and Development Center at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.

He manages and directs the execution of the Army Aviation Science and Technology portfolio, including basic and applied research, and advanced technology development. A career Army aviator and experimental test pilot, his duties also include serving as the Office of the Secretary of Defense lead for rotorcraft technology, and as director of the National Rotorcraft Technology Center.

Army Technology: What is the focus of Aviation science and technology research?

Lewis: The primary mission of the aviation development group is to formulate the technology advances that we’re going to implement in the future, both for current fleet and future fleet. This includes upgrades of our current fleet, development of new air vehicles, both manned and unmanned, as we progress toward the future of vertical lift.

Army Technology: What are some significant programs in AMRDEC’s current portfolio?

Lewis: Our two most visible programs are the Joint Multi-role and Degraded Visual Environment Mitigation. JMR is the S&T precursor to the Future Vertical Lift program; a family of rotorcraft vehicles.

In the DVE-M program we are developing a new warfighting capability by exploiting adverse environments. Remember, however, that 50 percent of our portfolio supports the current fleet.

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.

Continue reading