WASHINGTON, D.C. ― The advent of automated vehicles is accelerating a new market as successful pilots in semi-controlled operational environments, including Department of Defense (DoD) military bases, are increasing user acceptance and understanding of the technology.

Applied Robotics for Installations and Base Operations (ARIBO) was one of 24 teams to present the findings of automated technology testing during the SmartAmerica Challenge Summit, June 11, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The day prior to the summit, Team ARIBO also took part in a special preview event at the White House in preparation for the SmartAmerica Challenge. The team was one of only three selected.

Team ARIBO, sponsored in part by the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), demonstrated the potential benefits of cyber-physical systems technology, programs and test beds to improve safety, sustainability, efficiency, mobility and overall quality of life.

"I'm proud to have been involved with TARDEC from the very beginning. The reason is simple: There are few priorities more important to our country than the connections between technological advancement, economic competitiveness and job creation, national security and environmental awareness," said U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman.

"The use of autonomous vehicles and the application of robotics to base operations at our military installations can help our troops operate more efficiently and effectively and save tax- payer dollars," Levin continued.

"But the potential isn't limited to defense. Developments in autonomous vehicle technologies promise a host of improvements for all of us -- whether it's eliminating the headache of a traffic jam, making our roads safer or reducing emissions connected to global warming. It's an important effort to our military, our nation and, yes, for the world," Levin remarked.

ARIBO is a new approach to technology transition for the Army. It is a series of "living" laboratories that coordinate effort and investment to accelerate the adoption of automated technologies by placing them in useful scenarios where they can safely have a positive impact -- today. ARIBO aligns objectives across government agencies and affordably leverages investments in automated ground systems for common goals.

"No single person or organization possesses a monopoly on innovative ideas, and the SmartAmerica Challenge provides us with an opportunity to collaborate with other government, industry and academic organizations to solve complex problems," explained the HON Heidi Shyu, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology).

"The SmartAmerica Challenge is an opportunity to drive technologies forward and mature them, so that we can actually adopt them and put them to use. This type of technology is key to helping reduce the logistics tail of the U.S. Army," Shyu stated.

The technical issues explored and refined by ARIBO include: energy efficiency, system reliability, system endurance, vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, data transmission security, human-machine interface, obstacle avoidance, navigation and mapping, fault tolerance, and networked automated vehicle management.

"At the U.S. Army Materiel Command … we remain on the cutting edge of research and development, science and technology, to ensure our troops have the critical capabilities they need to meet future wartime requirements," stated Army Materiel Command Commanding General GEN Dennis L. Via.

"Moving towards a leaner, more agile and efficient Army calls for us to capitalize on smart technologies like those here at the SmartAmerica Summit. These advances automate routine tasks and allow us to redirect our talented workforce towards more complex missions."

Team ARIBO is a model of public-private partnership and cross-sector collaboration. In addition to TARDEC, ARIBO partners include: Stanford University, Induct Technologies, Unicor (through Induct), University of Texas Arlington Research Institute, West Point, Fort Bragg & Womack Army Medical Center and Comet Consulting.

"TARDEC is collaborating with partners from industry, academia and other government agencies, and across the Department of Defense to integrate technologies and develop advanced capabilities that increase our warfighters' effectiveness and improve their efficiency," TARDEC Director Dr. Paul D. Rogers stated.

"Autonomous systems and autonomy-enabled manned ground platforms are enabling capabilities that provide force multiplication to our warfighting functions and to our large installations. We are developing an understanding of how to leverage autonomy and autonomous systems -- understanding not only the technological value of these new capabilities but also generating the user acceptance. These are major objectives of our research and development programs," Rogers explained.

Lessons learned in ARIBO pilot projects will lead to advances in roadway safety, reduction of roadway congestion, and improved mobility and independence for those with physical challenges, such as Wounded Warriors or the elderly. Moreover, this technology is influencing the growth of an entire new industry, together with the jobs that will need to be done to support that industry's growth.

"We started with military bases and working with the DoD to set up automated vehicle pilots in a semi-controlled operational use," said Corey Clothier, Comet Consulting, who has been with ARIBO since its inception. "This gives us the advantage of trying the systems and really building the business case while testing the technology, and also validating the technology and validating the safety. What we found is there are a lot of commercial clients ready for automated vehicles, and Comet Consulting is expanding ARIBO to the commercial sector," he concluded.

For more info on the SmartAmerica Challenge Summit, go to: www.smartamerica.org.