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CHIPS Articles: Innovative robotic research platforms, technology showcased at capstone event

Innovative robotic research platforms, technology showcased at capstone event
By T'Jae Ellis, Army Research Laboratory - August 23, 2017
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (August 22, 2017) – Researchers from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, the Army’s corporate laboratory, and their academic partners demonstrated futuristic robotic research platforms during the Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology, known as MAST, Collaborative Technology Alliance Capstone Event today. The demos reinforced scientific rigor, highlighting the quality of the research towards solving Army relevant problems, noting first-ever and state-of-the-art benchmarks, officials said.

A few examples of technologies demonstrated include: A team from the University of California Berkeley demonstrated a novel legged robotic platform for locomotion on complex 3-D terrain. The University of Maryland and Texas A&M demonstrated a next generation of micro-cyclocopter that exploits unsteady aerodynamic mechanisms at ultra-low Reynolds numbers to achieve high endurance, agility, gust tolerance, and forward speed that could surpass any of the existing micro air vehicles.

Stanford University demonstrated “perch and stare” capabilities in a robotic system that uses bioinspired maneuvers, mechanisms and control strategies that enable microautonomous vehicles to land, attach, maneuver and take off from walls, ceilings, and roofs. Mixed platform systems created by ARL, the University of Pennsylvania and Georgia Tech were also be demonstrated showing collaborative mapping of a simulated urban environment.

The MAST CTA, established in 2008, has performed foundational, cross-cutting research to develop the underpinning science for enhanced tactical situational awareness for the dismount in urban and complex terrain by enabling the autonomous and collaborative operation of micro autonomous systems.

The program has focused on research areas in: mobility, control, and energetics; communication, navigation, and coordination; and sensing, perception, and processing. After 10 years of investment, this program is concluding in 2017.

“ARL has a long history of successful research collaborations bringing together the triad of industry, academia and government, dating back to the 1990s,” said Dr. Philip Perconti, ARL director. “The laboratory’s highest priority work involves research to reduce technology uncertainty, filling knowledge gaps, and identifying technology risk associated with delivering new capabilities, or by finding new ways to fight so that senior Warfighters can make decisions with high confidence on how to build the next Army.

Perconti said ARL works to equip Soldiers with technological overmatch and to help them avoid technology surprise on the battlefield.

“This is the fundamental reason the Department of Defense does research,” he said.

“Technologies developed through this effort are maturing as part of mission-funded ARL programs," said Dr. Brett Piekarski, who managed the alliance. “In the next three or four years, we can expect to see commercial industry advancing the research platforms innovated through this consortium and making their way into future Army autonomous systems.”

“Through the MAST program, we’ve really forced the state of the art and shown what is possible for Soldier hand held, portable autonomous systems for extended non-line-of-sight applications,” Piekarski said.

The MAST consortium is currently comprised of 19 partners that worked collaboratively in an integrated research effort that incorporated ARL researchers and research themes relevant to each participant. The consortium’s four research centers , which worked together as one, were BAE Systems and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Integration Principal Members); University of Maryland (Microsystem Mechanics Principal Member); University of Michigan (Microelectronics Principal Member); and University of Pennsylvania (Processing for Autonomous Operation Principal Member).

The industrial lead was BAE. Other consortium members are the University of California, Berkeley; Carnegie-Mellon University; Georgia Institute of Technology; University of New Mexico; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Stanford University; Texas A&M University; University of California, Merced; University of Delaware; University of Texas, Austin; Kansas State University; University of Colorado, Bolder; Bowie State University; and University of California, San Diego.

ARL is the Army's corporate laboratory providing the science and technology for the warfighter. Its diverse assortment of unique facilities and dedicated workforce of government and private sector partners make up the largest source of world-class integrated research and analysis in the Army. ARL consists of approximately 3,000 military and civilian employees with annual budget of more than $1.8 billion.

For more information, visit:
Army Research Lab
Army News Service

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