The U.S. Army Research Laboratory's Vehicle Technology Directorate (VTD) is the principal U.S. Army organization responsible for the pursuit of mobility-related science and technologies leading to advanced capabilities and improved reliability for Army air and ground vehicles. VTD leads the ARL Major Laboratory Program in mobility and the Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) Technology Focus Team in mobility and logistics. The technology focus areas within the ARL and RDECOM programs have been defined as platform, propulsion, intelligent systems and logistics.
The VTD mission is accomplished through in-house basic and applied research and from collaborations with other ARL functions, RDECOM, Navy, Air Force, academia and industry leaders. The mission is enhanced through teaming with and leveraging of research efforts associated with Collaborative Technology Alliances (CTAs) and Multidisciplinary University Research Initiatives (MURIs). For example, VTD is actively involved with two CTAs (Robotics and Micro Autonomous System Technologies), several cooperative agreements, and a unique partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA and the Glenn Research Center 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.
From 1970 through 2008, the Army and NASA research centers established a close working partnership under a unique co-location agreement. This agreement was restructured and the Army began operating under a new cost-effective tenant agreement at the NASA Langley Research Center in 2009, and has implemented a similar agreement with the NASA Glenn Research Center in 2010.
This focus area is associated with the development of autonomous vehicle systems, including autonomous maneuver, manipulation, and collaborative operations. VTD has significant efforts in the development of autonomous system technologies at Aberdeen Proving Ground involving its Autonomous Systems Division. In FY10, VTD will work to establish an ARL enterprise approach for developing an autonomous systems research plan (including inter-directorate contributions to key topical research areas such as perception, intelligence, and human-robot interaction), and will establish a new Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance (CTA) as the previous CTA reaches its conclusion in the second quarter of FY10.
The Autonomous Systems Division (ASD) supports basic and applied research conducted within ARL, externally with other government and industrial organizations, and with the Robotics CTA. Within the Robotics CTA, ARL and its partners have historically conducted research in the areas of perception, intelligent control and behaviors, and human-machine interaction to enable autonomous ground platforms that will provide future land combat force with significant new operational capabilities. A new element will be developed moving forward in FY10 that includes research in manipulation. The ASD 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.
This focus area is associated with the development of engine- and drive-system technologies for Army air and ground vehicles. The VTD has significant efforts in the development of propulsion technologies at Glenn Research Center involving its Propulsion Division. In FY10, VTD will complete a three-year ATO-R focused on developing technologies for small JP-8 fueled engines focused on increasing small engine efficiency and addressing the technical barriers of low-volume high-rpm combustion and heat management issues.
Propulsion research includes engines, drives and power transmission, primary power combustion and fuels, and non-primary power based on combustion processes. The VTD research in this focus area will be enabled by new facilities being developed at Aberdeen Proving Ground under the 2005 BRACE, but will be enhanced by reach-back to NASA Glenn and its available facilities. Major VTD major research investments include gas turbine engines, small JP-8 fueled engine technologies, and drive train technologies in the size and power classes relevant to all Army vehicles. Research projects include the study of turbine engine active stall control, engine efficiency improvements, advanced transmission system and component technologies, engine control algorithms, propulsion system diagnostic technologies for condition based maintenance, and high-temperature metallic, ceramic and composite materials for new advanced propulsion systems.
This focus area is associated with the development of advanced structures, aeromechanics, vehicle management and control, and mobility subsystems. The VTD has significant efforts in the development of platform technologies involving its Mechanics Division. The VTD Mechanics Division includes the Rotorcraft Aeroelasticity Team located at the Langley Research Center that works the Transonic Dynamics Tunnel on key aeroelasticity issues for Army rotorcraft. At Aberdeen Proving Ground, the Mechanics Division has teams focused on Prognostics and Diagnostics (P&D), Structural Mechanics, Vehicle Dynamics, and Multifunctional and Adaptive Structures. In FY11, the VTD Mechanics Division is building a comprehensive program in P&D to support the condition-based maintenance initiatives that will take advantage of ARL enterprise-wide core competencies.
Assess the potential of new vehicle concepts and translating findings to new requirements for research while pursuing detailed programs that take maximum advantage of precedent-setting technological opportunities.
This research includes platform and propulsion reliability and maintainability, Soldier support systems such as water and organizational equipment, and distribution. The VTD Propulsion and Mechanics Divisions encompass investigations of reliability and durability, and structural health monitoring that fall within this taxonomy. Structural health monitoring encompasses investigations of techniques and methods including prognostics and diagnostics for monitoring air and ground vehicle subsystems and structural integrity.