FORT HOOD, Texas -- Army researchers met with Fort Hood leaders to initiate a formalized relationship with Soldiers and help to steer the development of future, game-changing technology.
The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, known as DEVCOM, Army Research Laboratory’s senior enlisted leader, Sgt. Maj. Luke Blum, Heidi Maupin, regional lead for DEVCOM ARL South, along with other ARL researchers and support personnel, including Shannon Strank, Corine Romero, Dr. Garrett Warnell and Dr. Matthew Johnson, met with 1st Cavalry Division and III Corps leaders.
After the meeting and installation tour, the group came up with two outcomes, which will steering the team to a tangible path toward creating Soldier touch point opportunities.
First, Fort Hood and the laboratory will design and hold a week-long greening course for both Army researchers and Fort Hood civilians this fall.
Second, the team identified examples of several Soldier training exercises for researchers to observe exercises for researchers to observe, learn and appreciate how the Soldier learns. The group identified examples specific to the attending researchers’ own research areas–including artificial intelligence for command and control, artificial intelligence for mobility and maneuver, and power and energy for sustainability–though they expect even more relevant research areas will be identified as the partnership develops.
“As the Army’s corporate research laboratory, it is important that we integrate Soldier experiences into our technology development process,” Blum said. “ARL leverages its regional centers to team with military organizations to facilitate these “Soldier touch-points.” A partnership with III Corps and the 1st Cavalry Division will allow ARL to pursue a Soldier-centered design approach to its mission of operationalizing science for transformational overmatch.”
This partnership will help both organizations augment mission performances, Strank said. The Soldier will gain knowledge in the future technological direction of the Army and future career pathway, while researchers will garner valuable insight into Soldier operations that will directly improve their respective research and ultimately future capabilities delivered to the Soldier.
“ARL South is lucky to have Fort Hood in our back yard,” Maupin said. “Our ARL researchers aim to deliver technologies with the Soldiers’ needs in mind. It is an essential component for researchers to be aware of what the Soldiers’ needs are, how they train and how they operate. We’ve reached a major milestone where both the operational and research communities realized advantages of building a strong relationship with each other.”
Moving forward, the team will draft a memorandum of understanding between ARL and Fort Hood. The team will also finalize the curriculum and schedule a firm date in 2021 for the greening course.
“As an ARL researcher working on new technology for Soldiers, it is extremely helpful to interact with potential end users and hear about the issues that they face due to limitations or gaps in the Army’s current array of technology,” Johnson said. “A partnership with Fort Hood will provide a tremendous opportunity for these types of interactions and yield invaluable practical first-hand insights that can help shape ARL research and maximize its benefit to Soldiers.”
According to Warnell, while he and his colleagues have extensive training in the sciences, the reality is that they typically have little to no prior experience with Army operations. However, he said, this kind of experience is critical for them to be able to formulate and direct their research such that it will ultimately be applicable to the Army and Soldier of the future.
“For example, ARL scientists working under ARL's Essential Research Program on Artificial Intelligence for Mobility and Maneuver seek to solve fundamental research problems to enable future unmanned combat vehicles to move and act autonomously,” Warnell said. “While our counterparts in industry who work on building autonomous vehicles for the civilian road network manually perform the task they're trying to automate every day during their commute, we at ARL have very little experience seeing Soldiers use these vehicles, let alone operating them ourselves. A partnership with III Corps and the 1st Cavalry Division is exciting because of the potential to start to provide ARL civilian scientists with these kind of experiences, which will ultimately translate to more relevant and exciting research at the lab.”
As the Army’s corporate research laboratory, ARL is operationalizing science to achieve transformational overmatch. Through collaboration across the command’s core technical competencies, DEVCOM leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more successful at winning the nation’s wars and come home safely. DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. DEVCOM is a major subordinate command of the Army Futures Command.