ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (March 14, 2016) -- Army scientists and engineers gathered Feb. 17-19 in San Diego, California, to collaborate with other DOD researchers as part of the Autonomy Research Pilot Initiative, or ARPI.

The initiative is an experimental effort to attract "internal DOD ideas from laboratory bench-level scientists and engineers, and encourage cross-service communication and collaboration on autonomy-related research topics," according to the ARPI website (see related links).

"The group discussed approaches to effectively use machine learning techniques to incorporate a priori and sensed information to enable an unmanned system to dynamically evaluate its current state and its environment," said Dr. MaryAnne Fields, U.S. Army Research Laboratory Intelligent Control Team leader.

Fields said the group included U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center Ground Vehicle Robotics chief engineer and technologist Greg Hudas and Dr. DH Kim representing the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Hudas and Kim are members of the OSD ASD(R&E) Autonomy Community of Interest. The COI is a cross-service group that provides assessments of the challenges and gaps that need to be addressed for autonomous systems.

"We want autonomy-enabled and robotic systems to be a member of the unit. From a teaming aspect, it is a peer-to-peer relationship within the Soldier-as-a-system construct," Hudas said. "Ultimately, warfighters will perform missions with robotic assets and they will treat those assets as peer equivalents."

"There were about 10 ARL scientists at the meeting representing multiple ARPI projects," Fields said. "ARL participates in six of the projects."

The meeting was sponsored by the Privileged Sensing ARPI, which is led by Dr. William Nothwang from the ARL Sensors and Electron Devices Directorate.

Fields said discussions included sensor fusion for multi-scale frameworks, machine learning strategies and dynamic control architecture schemes.

"The group made recommendations for specific technologies for future research initiatives." Fields said.

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The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.