By ARL Public AffairsFebruary 23, 2018
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- The U.S. Army Research Laboratory selected a new director for its Vehicle Technology Directorate, a 120-person operation that pursues mobility-related science and technology. The lab named Dr. Jaret C. Riddick to lead its science and technology efforts to develop advanced capabilities and improved reliability for Army air and ground vehicles.
Riddick is now responsible for guiding the strategic vision and operationalization of new science that primarily supports the lab's Science for Maneuver Campaign, which seeks to establish novel technologies to enable and augment unmanned autonomous systems and manned vehicle platforms envisioned for air and ground operations for year 2030 and beyond.
"Vehicle intelligence research, in particular, is an important area of interest for the Army," Riddick said.
The directorates areas of emphasis include energy and propulsion; platform mechanics; platform intelligence; and logistics and sustainability.
"The expected result is to provide the future warfighter with an autonomous system that operates as a teammate and can transport materiel, such as supplies; and enhance situational awareness by supporting the communication, surveillance and reconnaissance mission," Riddick said.
In the future, advances in robotics may even act as the "tip of the spear" in manned-unmanned teaming operations protecting Soldiers from the dangers of first contact with an enemy force, he said.
Technologies to enable manned-unmanned teaming of Soldiers with autonomous platforms, such as ground robots or unmanned aerial systems, support the Army modernization priorities in future vertical lift and the next generation combat vehicle. They are a main focus of the directorate and lab's maneuver campaign.
In addition to the fundamental research currently being performed to expand the autonomous capabilities, utility and functionality of these future platforms are an essential area of research for the directorate and will enable tactical unit energy independence.
In the coming months, the laboratory will stand up its Center for UAS Propulsion at APG. This facility would make ARL the only agency within the government and industry equipped with state-of-the-art, unique experimental facilities for UAS propulsion.
"Failures of propulsion systems are a leading cause of premature loss of UAS for the Army, resulting in reduced warfighter readiness," Riddick said. "Research conducted through the center will address these issues, in addition to enabling the ever increasing demand for UAS with greater range, speed and payload."
He further explained that one focus area for the center will be on the development of multi-fuel capable, hybrid electric propulsion systems, which will enable intelligent and robust propulsion performance and mission flexibility including long duration silent maneuver.
Army researchers collaborate with U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command partners at the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center in Alabama and the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center in Michigan, to ensure project alignment and support of the larger mission of supporting the Army chief of staff's modernization priorities.
"Specifically, the fundamental research led by VTD, with the associated high risk and disruption, provides a contrast to the hardware development and technology demonstration focus of our RDECOM transition partners," Riddick said. "A larger percentage of the VTD research portfolio drives toward knowledge products to inform options for decision making at senior levels in the development and acquisition of new Army systems, as well as shaping the technology landscape of the future for our transition partners."
Riddick offers critical subject matter expertise for the new science to sustain future Army vehicle platforms. He joined the laboratory's Mechanics Division at the NASA-Langley Research Center in 2002. In 2012, the laboratory chose Riddick to lead of the Structural Integrity and Durability Team at APG, where he directed PhD-level researchers in establishing and maturing concepts for reliable, lightweight and adaptive vehicle platform technologies.
Riddick said his most recent research interests focus on additive manufacturing of multifunctional components to enable maintenance-free, self-responsive, damage-adaptive maneuver in support of the new Army Operating Concept for multi-domain battle.
Before becoming VTD director, Riddick served as acting chief of the VTD Mechanics Division, where he supervised research efforts to reduce the logistics burden, as well as operation and maintenance costs of future Army air and ground, manned and unmanned vehicle platforms. He accepted a special duty assignment as staff specialist in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, directly supporting the deputy director for Land Warfare and Munitions. There he served as the primary coordinator of acquisition oversight for the DOD tactical wheeled vehicle programs, including the multi-billion dollar Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program.
The DOD designated Riddick as interim unmanned systems coordinator for policy on autonomy, robotics and unmanned systems technology. He also completed a detail serving as deputy director of Air Systems Portfolio in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology.
Riddick holds a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Howard University; a master of science in mechanical engineering with a concentration in mechanics of materials from North Carolina A&T State University; and a doctorate in engineering mechanics from Virginia Tech. He has published more than 50 refereed journal articles and conference papers; and delivered more than 100 conference presentations and technical briefings. In 2017, he was awarded the Office of Secretary of Defense Award of Excellence and the Department of the Army Commander's Award for Civilian Service.
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.