The U.S. Army and Southeast Michigan have deep ties, and this relationship was on display as a bi-partisan contingent of more than a dozen members of Michigan's state legislature toured U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC) and the U.this past week.Most of the visiting legislators represent districts within Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties or neighboring areas.The Arsenal visit also included engagements with leaders from the U.S. Army TACOM LCMC, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ground Combat Systems and PEO Combat Support and Combat Service Support.Highlighting the TARDEC visit was the role its engineers and researchers play in the local automotive and defense industries and the unique capabilities they bring to system integration, including the unique, testing and simulation facilities provided by the research center's subject-matter experts (SMEs).In particular, SMEs provided the delegates and up-close and personal look at TARDEC's Ground Systems Power and Energy Laboratory and, specifically, the Power and Energy Vehicle Environmental Laboratory (PEVEL), a one-of-a-kind facilities for large vehicle systems testing. The PEVEL enables engineers to test vehicle characteristics at temperature ranges from -60?F to 120?F and relative humidity levels from practically 0% to 90% with the goal of reproducing real-world environmental conditions."It's truly impressive what TARDEC does for the state of Michigan, for the United States and for our military," said state Rep. Hank Vaupel of Fowlerville. "I am so impressed with the facilities here and the amount of research TARDEC does for the state, working together with all these companies."The tour compliments the new "Protect and Grow" strategy launched by the Michigan Defense Center (MDC), an operation conducted by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. "Protect and Grow" is, "a massive effort to develop a state-wide strategic plan to not only protect the [Department of Defense] assets that have been in Michigan for the last 70 years, but also to identify new synergistic opportunities," according to the MDC website."Many of the economic returns realized through the state of Michigan's support of the defense industry come through or are catalyzed by TARDEC," explained TARDEC Director Dr. Paul Rogers. "Our partnership with industry is a key strategy to accelerate innovation, and the strength of the industrial base here in Michigan is reflected in the effective and efficient capability upgrades we bring to the Warfighter. What's more, we can offer to local industry the critical capabilities, state-of-the-art test facilities and skill sets developed by the Army which may be unavailable or too costly to develop in the private sector."The growing bond between TARDEC and the various Michigan agencies were also front-and-center during the event.The tour comes in advance of the start of a collaboration between TARDEC and the Michigan Department of Transportation designed to study the potential for driver-assist and autonomous vehicles on commercial roadways. The study, which is to be conducted along a stretch of I-69 between Flint and Port Huron beginning next summer, will investigate the potential for integration of driver-assist and autonomous capabilities in commercial line-haul tractors.For most of the legislative members, this was their first visit to the Arsenal and TARDEC and seemed to leave a lasting impression."Michigan obviously is a leader in defense technology and always has been," said state Rep. Jim Runestad of White Lake. "Seeing the facilities here at TARDEC, I'm glad to know we're continuing to lead that way and making a tremendous economic contribution to the state." For more information about TARDEC, contact Doug Halleaux, TARDEC PAO, douglas.g.halleaux.civ@mail.mil.ABOUT TARDEC Headquartered at the U.S. Army Detroit Arsenal in Warren, Mich., TARDEC is a major research, development and engineering center for the Army Materiel Command's Research, Development and Engineering Command, and is an enterprise partner in the TACOM LCMC.ABOUT RDECOM RDECOM is the Army's technology leader and largest technology developer. RDECOM ensures the dominance of Army capabilities by creating, integrating and delivering technology-enabled solutions to our Soldiers. To meet this commitment to the Army, RDECOM develops technologies in its seven major laboratories and research, development and engineering centers. It also integrates technologies developed in partnership with an extensive network of academic, industry and international partners.-30-