Vehicle Technology

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory's Vehicle Technology Directorate (VTD) is the principal U.S. Army science and technology organization responsible for the pursuit of mobility-related research leading to overmatch capabilities and improved reliability for Army vehicles and platforms. VTD's mission is to discover, innovate, and transition cutting-edge technologies within autonomy, mechanics, propulsion, and reliability sciences to enhance existing and revolutionize future Army vehicles. The Directorate is divided into four divisions: Propulsion, Mechanics, Vehicle Applied Research, and Autonomous Systems, which focus on technology areas such as platform structures, propulsion, intelligent systems, and logistics. Within ARL, VTD is lead Directorate for the Sciences for Maneuver Campaign and the Tactical Unit Energy Independence Essential Research Area

The VTD mission is accomplished through in-house basic and applied research as well as collaborations with other ARL functions, RDECOM, other services, PMs/PEOs, academia, and industry partners. The mission is additionally enhanced through teaming with and leveraging of research efforts associated with Collaborative Technology Alliances (CTAs), Collaborative Research Alliances (CRAs), and Multidisciplinary University Research Initiatives (MURIs). For example, VTD is actively involved with two collaborative alliances (Robotics CTA and the Distributive and Collaborative Intelligent Systems and Technology (DCIST) CRA). VTD is also engaged in numerous cooperative agreements (CAs) with academia and industry and has unique agreements for facilities sharing to include joint research with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at the Langley Research Center (LRC) in Hampton, VA and the Glenn Research Center (GRC) in Cleveland, OH.

The VTD is located at three sites. The main site is at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD where most of the directorate offices are situated. The focus here is on autonomous systems and mechanics research with cross-cutting interdisciplinary analysis and technology development supported by the recently-formed Vehicle Applied Research Division. At the NASA- Langley site there is a Mechanics Division aeromechanics field element, and at the NASA- Glenn site is the Propulsion Division.

The VTD is located at three sites. The main site is at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD where most of the Directorate offices are situated. The focus here is on propulsion, autonomous systems, platform structures, sustainability, durability, and aeromechanics research. VTD currently has two stationed field elements: the Vehicle Applied Research Division (VARD) Aeromechanics Field Element located at the NASA LRC and the Propulsion Division's Rotorcraft Propulsion Field Element located at the NASA GRC.

Propulsion

Propulsion

The Vehicle and Technology Directorate's (VTD) mission in the area of propulsion is to revolutionize and advance propulsion component technologies for Army air and ground systems. Research associated with this area will enable overmatch through enduring maneuver power and mobility, and includes advancements in gas turbine, piston and rotary, drives, and electric and hybrid systems. Main focus areas include Small Power for future unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and robots, interface sciences under extreme conditions, and future rotorcraft component technologies. Within VTD, there is a field-element team located at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH that focuses in hybrid gears, rotorcraft multi-speed transmissions, and thermal flow dynamics in Variable Speed Power Turbines (VSPT).

Recent significant efforts include failure mechanisms associated with Army UAS propulsion systems in extreme environments, component technologies to improve the reliability and performance for future Army UAS, coatings for molten sand on turbine blades, loss of lubrication conditions, effects of physical and chemical property of fuel on spray, atomization, mixing and combustion under Army-relevant, realistic, engine conditions, and hybrid gear technologies.

Platform

Platform The main goal of this focus area is to gain a greater fundamental understanding of the science of platform mechanics to enable next-generation, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicle configurations and subsystem technologies across the range of size and capability. Within VTD, there is a field-element team located at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia that addresses key aeroelasticity issues for Army rotorcraft. At Aberdeen Proving Ground, VTD is focused on using High Performance Computing (HPC) modeling and simulations for computational aeromechanics research. Some current research efforts include the exploration and evaluation of innovative VTOL vehicle configurations to exploit advances in electronics, material and manufacturing technologies enable next-generation performance and maneuverability in complex environments. Physics based algorithms, methods, and tools also developed for flight mechanics, dynamics predictions, performance assessment, and visualization of the impact that various technologies can have on rotorcraft. Analytical, computational and experimental investigations are also conducted to advance the science and technology of lift generating mechanisms, underlying processes, and systems to enable efficient VTOL vehicles.

Intelligent Systems

Intelligent Systems

This focus area is associated with the development of autonomous vehicle technologies, to enable autonomous maneuver, manipulation, and collaborative operations. ARL has established an enterprise approach for developing autonomous systems research plans including inter-directorate contributions to key topical research areas such as perception, intelligence, mobility, environment interaction, and human-robot interaction. VTD plays a key role in ARL's robotics efforts through its research emphasis in embodied and embedded intelligent systems. It also maintains its established and historic role to provide basic research assessment of rapidly advancing unmanned systems technologies.

In addition to supporting internal basic and applied research, VTD also collaborates with external partners at universities, other government, and industrial organizations. This is achieved in part with the unmanned systems CRAs and CTAs. Within the Robotics CTA, ARL and its partners have conducted research in the areas of perception, intelligent control and behaviors, mobility and manipulation, and human-machine interaction to enable autonomous ground platforms that will provide future land combat force with significant new operational capabilities. VTD also has internal research programs focused on autonomous mechanics, intelligent control, and manipulation to develop increased levels of autonomy for a broad range of mobile platforms, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), unmanned ground vehicles (UGV), and Microsystems. Future research trusts will focus on increasing the collective proficiency of the component technologies to enable unmanned systems to act as true intelligent/autonomous teammates in missions at operational tempo.

Logistics

Logistics

Research in this area focuses on the discovery, innovation, and transition of capabilities and design concepts that can be used to enable intelligent self-sensing and self-reporting platforms that enable diagnostics, inspection, and monitoring of future vehicle systems, subsystems, and components. The long term goal of this thrust is to enable novel technology that will substantially reduce the Army's sustainment costs and provide the Army commanders with the capability to plan missions in real time. VTD's research investments in this area fall in the realm of reliability, durability, and structural health monitoring (SHM). Structural health monitoring (SHM) encompasses investigations of techniques and methods including prognostics and diagnostics for monitoring air and ground vehicle subsystems and structural integrity. Research in SHM increasingly relies upon machine learning, artificial intelligence, and big data as contributors to an overall approach to applying analytics to solve challenges associated with real-time diagnosis of damage state and the prediction of remaining useful life or system and component failure.

 

Last Update / Reviewed: May 1, 2018