ORLANDO, Fla. (Army News Service, Dec. 3, 2008 -- The 26th Army Science Conference is currently underway in Orlando, bringing together the scientists, researchers and engineers that are leading the way in developing the next generation of technology for the U.S. Army.

About 1,400 from across the globe have gathered together for the four-day conference. It's a packed schedule with seminars, keynote speeches and paper presentations.

"It's a real opportunity to bring a large array of scientists and engineers from within the Army, our partners in industry and academia, and international partners together," said Dr. Thomas Killion, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Research and Technology and the Army's chief scientist. "There are many new ideas generated and potential for new collaboration."

Before, after and between sessions, scientists and engineers who may normally work continents apart can be seen huddling around papers and presentations, discussing their current research and contemplating the next big development.

Killion emphasized that there is a great complexity and range to the current research taking place, and a level of motivation and understanding among the Army's scientists and engineers that is unprecedented. The U.S. Army currently has more than 2,000 scientists and engineers working in its laboratories.

"We have the focus and motivation of our scientists and engineers, because they know the technology and they understand the Army," said Killion.

In the past 7-8 years, with the U.S. military entering into a period that has been referred to as persistent conflict, Army scientists have stepped up to the plate to not just create new technologies, but field them as quickly and safely as possible, Killion said.

Killion cited small pac bots as an example of fielded technology. Seven to eight years ago the Army may have had just a couple pac bots in active use. In recent years, however, the Army has fielded close to 10,000 of the small robots that are now in the hands of Soldiers. Those robots accomplish the reconnaissance missions that keep Soldiers out of harm's way and save lives.

"We're creating a generation of Soldiers who are extremely comfortable with the idea of working with robots," said Killion.

With many of the world's leaders in defense technology and science gathered together, the 26th Army Science Conference is primed to spin out additional developments and make progress that will build upon the successes of current programs and initiatives.

Army scientists and engineers will continue to collaborate to get the job done across the full spectrum of conflict, said Killion.