Tech

July 9, 2012

Robotics rodeo showcases new technologies

Tags:
by Vince Little
Fort Benning, Ga.

More than 40 vendors and representatives from five universities demonstrated various technologies during the 2012 Robotics Rodeo at Fort Benning, Ga., The Rodeo’s third installment, a 10-day event that ended June 29, 2012, featured nearly 75 different technologies in all.

The Maneuver Center of Excellence put a dose of sci-fi on center stage at the 2012 Robotics Rodeo.

More than 40 vendors and five universities showcased nearly 75 different technologies during the 10-day event at Fort Benning’s McKenna Urban Operations Complex. It kicked off June 20 and ended June 29.

Sponsored by the Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, known as TARDEC, and the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, or JIEDDO, through the Maneuver Battle Lab, the Robotics Rodeo provides a venue for the military to harness the research and development community’s potential to counter the complex and adaptive threats on today’s battlefield, organizers said. It brings together the defense, homeland security, academia and industry communities to energize robots in support of the war fighter.

“It’s a great marriage of both industry and academia, which is what we strive for,” said Harry Lubin, the Maneuver Battle Lab’s Live Experimentation Branch chief. “Fort Benning is the proponent for Army ground robotics, so it was a great fit. A difference this year is we focused on specific tactical events.”

Innovators participated in task-based scenarios and open robotics demonstrations aimed at motivating industry, educating developers and gaining insight into the current and emerging state of ground robotics technology and artificial intelligence, officials said. From an Army standpoint, it was an opportunity for scientists and engineers from government and industry to link up with soldiers who might someday employ the robots and unmanned systems in combat.

Addressing capability caps in defeating the improvised explosive device, or IED, threat was a central theme throughout the Rodeo, said Jim Parker, associate director for ground vehicle robotics at TARDEC. This year, it was set up for unmanned platforms to perform in three operational vignettes: they had to provide supplies, dig hasty fighting positions for a squad, and autonomously search and detect the presence of opposing forces.

“We have a high level of confidence in these robots,” Parker said. “This is a very important event for us. In general, we were very pleased with what we saw here.”

This marked the third Robotics Rodeo overall and the second at Fort Benning, which last hosted the event in 2010.

It was the first time JIEDDO participated in a challenged-based acquisition process, said Matt Way, a program integrator with the agency, which was created to attack networks, train the force and defeat the device. The organization set up four events – endurance, detection, disruption and reconnaissance – based on problem sets where robots could play a role in counter-IED operations.

“We definitely learned some lessons,” Way said. “There are some things we can tweak and improve, but overall, we were impressed with how everything ran and the results we saw. We use our intel arm to keep track of the latest (enemy) trends out there and try to look ahead at where we need to be in delivering new technology. Robotics take the man out of the loop, and any time we can find a solution with mobility and suitability to support the soldiers, it’s better to put that robot in harm’s way than the individual.”

The robots on display at the Rodeo ranged in size from handheld devices to 4,500-pound vehicles, said Ed Davis, the Maneuver Battle Lab’s deputy director. Outcomes will be used to further support the MCoE’s “Squad: Foundation of the Decisive Force” initiative by advancing possible robotic technology solutions.

“Most of the time, those who engage enemy forces are at that squad level, so we’re looking at how we can reduce the load on a soldier,” he said. “With robotics, we’re looking at whether we can offload some of that equipment and then get it to him when he needs it. It also increases his situational awareness. If he knows more about what he’s up against when he has a mission, he can tailor that load specifically for that. We’re looking at a lot of things in trying to help soldier effectiveness in that small unit.”

The Robotics Rodeo lasted only four days in 2010. Lubin said he’s optimistic sponsors will want to return as the joint community used the event to target solutions and recommendations for further experimentation or rapid fielding.

“We really need a more collaborative effort to solve this counter-IED problem,” Way said. “It’s been a great partnership working with (the Maneuver Battle Lab) because they can rapidly help us get an assessment here with troops who have deployment experience. That’s a serious risk mitigator for us in delivering a product that has the right amount of performance.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines January 23, 2015

News: Two Marines identified in deadly California helo crash - Two Marine Corps officers killed when their helicopter crashed during a training exercise in the Southern California desert were remembered Jan. 25 as talented pilots. Greek F-16 crashes in Spain during NATO exercise - Ten people died Jan. 26 after a Greek air force F-16 jet crashed...
 
 

News Briefs January 26, 2015

Navy wants to increase use of sonar-emitting buoys The U.S. Navy is seeking permits to expand sonar and other training exercises off the Pacific Coast, a proposal raising concerns from animal advocates who say that more sonar-emitting buoys would harm whales. The Navy now wants to deploy up to 720 sonobuoys about 12 miles off...
 
 
Air National Guard photograph by SSgt. Annie Edwards

ANG conducts air refueling training with NATO allies in Germany

Air National Guard photograph by SSgt. Annie Edwards A NATO E-3A AWACS aircraft approaches a Utah Air National Guard KC-135R Stratotanker for air refueling during a training flight over Germany on Jan. 13, 2015. Nearly 30 airme...
 

 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Armando A. Schwier-Morales

Ramstein Airmen train with French air force

Air Force photograph by SrA. Armando A. Schwier-Morales Two U.S. Air Force pilots and a French air force navigator discuss the route to the drop zone during a simulated low-level drop Jan. 21, 2015, at Orleans – Bricy Air...
 
 

Marines receive first F-35C Lightning II carrier variant

The first F-35C Lightning II, carrier variant, for the U.S. Marine Corps touched-down on the flight line at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 13, from the Lockheed Martin plant in Fort Worth, Texas, to begin training in support of carrier-based operations. U.S. Marine Lt. Col. J.T. Ryan, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 501 detachment commander...
 
 

VA announces single regional framework under MyVA initiative

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Jan. 26 that it is taking the first steps under the MyVA initiative to realign its many organizational maps into one map with five regions to better serve Veterans. The new regions under the MyVA alignment will allow VA to begin the process of integrating disparate organizational boundaries into...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>