ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (May 1, 2015) -- Supercomputers and new kinds of algorithms are making a big difference as Army scientists explore what is possible with future computing, a senior computer researcher said.
"It's enabling us to do things like design new munitions and design new materials from scratch," said Dr. John Pellegrino, computational and information sciences director at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, or ARL. "We're just beginning to see how to do modeling of materials so we can have control over every stage of the development and therefore come up with totally new classes of ultra-lightweight and ultra-strong materials for armor or new kinds of electronics for example."
Pellegrino is the featured interview for the May/June 2015 issue of Army Technology Magazine. The magazine is an authorized, unofficial publication published under Army Regulation 360-1, for all members of the Department of Defense and the general public.
"There is almost limitless potential out there," Pellegrino said. "We're doing some really fascinating work from modeling and simulation of materials by design from the atom all the way up to the interaction of humans and information and hardware - whether that be robotics or information systems embodied in chips - that will enable the Soldier to be very highly instrumented and capable and have more information and access at their fingertips than ever before."
With advanced computers, the Army continues to see improvements and efficiencies, said the commanding general of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, also known as RDECOM.
"Imagine a Soldier of the future holding a conversation with a computing device or robot that has vast situational awareness, connectivity and resources," said Maj. Gen. John F. Wharton. "We look to future computers to communicate more effectively by processing natural language and advancing how we interact with machines."
RDECOM has six research centers and the Army Research Laboratory works with industry and academia on its mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.
"Through our partnership with the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies, we are advancing research in computer-generated characters that use language, have appropriate gestures, show emotion and react to verbal and non-verbal stimuli," Wharton said. "This virtual human effort has applications in training and education and, hopefully, intelligent agents and robots as well."
The research in creating virtual humans and related technologies are focused on expanding the ways Soldiers can interact with computers, optimizing performance in the human dimension, and providing low-overhead, easily accessible and higher-fidelity training.
For communications, Army researchers are looking at the potential of brain-computer interfaces to create technologies for recording brain activity and establishing computational methods and algorithms to translate the signals into computer executable commands.
"Having a Soldier gain the ability to communicate without any overt movement would be invaluable both in the battlefield as well as in combat casualty care," said Dr. Liyi Dai, program manager in the Computer Sciences Division at ARL's Army Research Office in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.
Army researchers are also moving forward with advanced language translation software to make real-time communications possible.
"Computers could never replace the human translator, but we look for ways to relieve some of the burden," said Melissa Holland, chief for ARL's multi-lingual computing research program.
Army research initiatives are designed to meet what Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno has called "technological overmatch."
"The Army has global responsibilities that require technological advantages to prevail decisively in combat," Wharton said. "At RDECOM, the search for technological overmatch is in our DNA. I am inspired by the ground-breaking research and development that occurs at our centers and labs."
The magazine is available as an electronic download, or print publication.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness--technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection and sustainment--to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.