By Mr. Bryan Gatchell (Benning)August 31, 2018
FORT BENNING, Ga. (Aug. 31, 2018) - The Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate (CDID), of the Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCoE) and Fort Benning, Georgia, hosted a robotics and autonomous systems industry day at the MCoE headquarters Aug. 30.
CDID determines and develops future force capabilities and future Infantry and Armor requirements, and the day's events were meant to provide defense industry partners and partners within academia robotics and autonomous systems requirements so organizations within industry and academia could begin researching and developing manned and unmanned air and ground systems.
Donald Sando, director of CDID and the deputy to the commanding general of the MCoE, opened the event before an audience of industry and academic personnel.
"We want to be very open in our collaboration," said Sando to the audience of industry and academic partners. "If you think we can do it in a better fashion, let us know."
Sando talked about the overall scope of developing the Army's capabilities. To enable the Army of the future, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command has identified five critical enabling technologies, which include robotic and autonomous systems, among other technologies.
Phil Coker, president of EOS Defense Systems USA of Huntsville, Alabama, appreciated the focus the event provided to industry.
"If you don't know where to go, you spend a lot of money chasing the wrong thing," said Coker. "And in this particular opportunity, the government has been tremendously helpful, and they're offering us the opportunity to see what they need very exactly. And that allows us to spend money wisely and allows us to shape our technology to meet their requirements."
Although the event was about providing industry direction in which the Army hoped to go concerning robotic and autonomous systems, the reason the event was held with industry partners on location was so they could provide feedback to the Army.
Col. Thomas Nelson, the TRADOC capabilities manager for robotic and autonomous systems at CDID, explained the importance of robots to the Army warfighter.
"We have both ground and air robots that have been fielded to the force, and I can tell you that they absolutely reduce risk and provide Soldiers with capabilities that are needed," said Nelson.
He also emphasized the importance of the recursive collaboration between military and industry in more quickly fielding the technology to the warfighter.
"This is our chance to share with industry our document, for them to take that document back to their corporate leadership, and start getting after the science and technology necessary for them to take our
Army into the future to achieve that overmatch," said Nelson. "The sooner they can get back to their corporate headquarters, the more collaboration that can take place. And we believe that can generate potential material solutions that we can field to the warfighter in a faster pace."
Coker appreciated the event for its capacity to not only connect military with industry but to connect industry partners with one another.
"There's a tremendous opportunity for teaming in this kind of meeting, where you can build a community of understanding and a community of capabilities," said Coker. "My partners in there - my fellow contractors and members of industry - are offering technologies that frankly complement one another in many cases."
Nelson called Fort Benning the "perfect place to integrate robotics and autonomous systems," and said students would be served well by investing their future in robotics-connected fields.
"Nobody knows where robotics and autonomous systems will take our Army and our nation," said Nelson. "I firmly believe that robotics and autonomous systems will continue to be integrated in a fairly fast pace as we move forward. If you like that type of thing, if you like robotics and you like engineering, it's a perfect opportunity to study and get into a field that has the potential for growth."