[Austin, Texas] Representatives from Army Futures Command (AFC) and the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) unveiled the first phase of renovations at the UT Austin Robotics Center of Excellence (RCOE), Oct. 2. Celebrating the event with a ribbon-cutting, the ceremony was led by Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy, Governor of Texas Greg Abbott, and UT Austin President John ‘Jay’ Hartzell.
UT Austin President Hartzell opened the ceremony, sharing the university’s vision for its partnership with the US Army, saying,
“Our collaboration with the Army Futures Command is not simply about a project or a mission, it’s about full commitment to developing a technological advantage for the defense of our nation.”
Housed in the Anna Hiss Gymnasium on the UT Campus, the RCOE is the larger of two facilities UT Austin has committed to building as part of a $50 million partnership with the Army. AFC greatly values partnerships with local industry innovators and leading academic institutions, emphasizing the development of dynamic collaborations in the Central Texas area.
During the ceremony, Governor Abbott expressed the observed change he has witnessed throughout the state, as Austin continues to grow into a hub for technology innovation.
“I’ve spent a lot of time working with [General Murray] and the Secretary of the Army, talking about the aspects of this transformation, and it’s so important what [Army Futures Command] is doing, and more import that they chose to do it in Austin, Texas and in connection to the University of Texas,” said Governor Abbott.
Abbott continued, “Together, we are all working on the transformation, making sure we are doing our part to advance technologies and robotics in a way that will ensure collectively, we keep the United States of America the world leader in every category.”
At the UT RCOE, the United States Army will sponsor a variety of research programs, including Human-Robot Social Navigation, Global Navigation Satellite System Situational Awareness, and Adaptive Planner Parameter Learning from Demonstration. This research will be instrumental in the cultivation of technologies to support AFC’s Next Generation Combat Vehicle and Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Teams. Ultimately, AFC’s partnership with UT Austin maintains the momentum of innovation across our nation through the achievement of the six key modernization priorities of the US Army.
Army Futures command leverages academic partnerships to place emerging robotic technologies into the hand of soldiers at a faster and more efficient pace. This change in the method of acquisitions and development processes demonstrates a shift from the methods employed previously by the Army. This new method serves to streamline the means of integrating new systems and technologies into the force.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy echoed this idea, saying,
“This is a historic day for the Army and Army Futures Command, and our partners here at the University of Texas. We have a shared vision to make UT one of the best robotic research facilities in the world, with solider-centered design at its core.”
The Army continues to exert effort towards fostering a spirit of teamwork in the commercial and academic space. In addition to the robotics partnership with the University of Texas, AFC has developed cooperative agreements with Texas A&M University for Hypersonic and Carnegie Mellon University for artificial intelligence.