Army advances robotics research

By U.S. Army CCDC Army Research Laboratory Public AffairsOctober 21, 2019

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PITTSBURGH -- The U.S. Army is advancing robotics technology with the goal of creating teammates for future American Soldiers.

At the National Robotics Engineering Center, the Army, and its academic and industry partners, showcased the technology they've been developing for the past 10 years. The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command's Army Research Laboratory led the effort.

"Ten years ago, February 2009, the Army Research Laboratory issued a program announcement with the goal of bringing together industrial, government and academic institutions to address research and development required to enable the development and deployment of future unmanned military ground vehicle systems ranging in size from man-portables to ground combat vehicles," said U.S. Army CCDC ARL Director Dr. Philip Perconti. "This is what started the Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance."

The capstone event showcased the foundational research the alliance has been working on to meet Army modernization goals, as well as the research behind autonomy for the Next Generation Combat Vehicle.

This includes programs such as:

*Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle and the Robot Combat Vehicle

*High-speed perception and mobility in rough terrain

*Situation awareness in unstructured environments

*Collaborative human-robot mission planning and execution

*Multi-modal human-robot dialogue

*Dexterous mobile manipulation in cluttered environment and how this research will transition to future platforms.

"We've really changed the way we think about robotics over the last 10 years from thinking about robots using a metric world where they're tools, they really don't understand the world, they don't really have the ability to reason about the world and we've really started bringing in semantic understanding of the world, which basically means they understand concepts in the same way humans do," said Dr. Stuart Young, the RCTA manager with the U.S. Army CCDC Army Research Laboratory. "If you don't understand in those terms, then it's hard to understand, imagine or predict what the systems will do."

Members of the alliance included:

• General Dynamics Land Systems - Robotics

• Carnegie Mellon University - The Robotics Institute

• Massachusetts Institute of Technology

• Florida State University

• University of Central Florida

• University of Pennsylvania

• QinetiQ North America

• Cal Tech/Jet Propulsion Lab

"What we see now is an emerging group of young leaders who are working across the autonomy enterprise to move these objectives forward to have impact for the Army," said Dr. Jaret Riddick, director of the lab's Vehicle Technology Directorate. "Really my pride is beyond words today. I'm so proud of the fact that this group was able to come together and bring the community of folks together that has worked on this problem for more than a decade and to be able to show that off."

With this milestone complete, the Army has its new goals.

"I know we have a long way to go before robotics technology is a commonplace as say, the automobile and devices powered by speech recognition are as intuitive as human beings," Perconti said. "But, thanks to the professionalism and dedication of all who have worked for and with the Robotics CTA over the past decade or more, we have taken a significant leap forward to providing unprecedented capabilities for the Soldier in our Army."


The CCDC Army Research Laboratory is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. As the Army's corporate research laboratory, ARL discovers, innovates and transitions science and technology to ensure dominant strategic land power. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more effective to win our Nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.

Army advances robotics research

Related Links:

U.S. Army CCDC Army Research Laboratory

U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command

Army Futures Command

Photos from Capstone Event