ARL supports U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) missions by providing underpinning science and technology across a broad range of disciplines. ARL has developed Major Laboratory Programs (MLPs) supported throughout its Directorate structures that align with the RDECOM Technology Focus Teams (TFTs). The Vehicle Technology Directorate (VTD) primarily supports the ARL MLP in Mobility and Reliability, and the Mobility MLP taxonomy aligns closely with that of the Mobility and Logistics (M&L) TFT. The Mobility MLP has four core competencies described as follows:
This focus area is associated with developing platform technologies for Army air and ground vehicle systems. VTD has significant efforts in the development of platform technologies involving its Mechanics Division. The VTD Mechanics Division includes a rotorcraft aeroelasticity team located at the Langley Research Center, located in Virginia, as well as a structural mechanics team at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), Md. In FY10, VTD is developing analytical modeling methods to predict displacement of air-supported structures under load.
Mechanics research includes advanced structures, aeromechanics, vehicle management and control, and mobility subsystems such as track and suspensions. VTD research in this focus area will be enabled by new facilities being developed at APG under the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission, but will be enhanced by reach-back to NASA Langley and its available facilities.
Major VTD research investments include platform mechanics and reliability technologies. Research projects include analytical modeling methods for air structures, prognostic and diagnostic models for vehicle structures, analytical modeling methods for damage tolerance design of vehicle structures, and high-performance active twist rotor technology.
This focus area is associated with the development of engine and drives systems technologies for Army air and ground vehicles. VTD has significant efforts in the development of propulsion technologies at Glenn Research Center, located in Ohio, involving its Propulsion Division. In FY10, VTD will complete a three-year research program focused on developing technologies for small JP-8 fueled engines with the objective of 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. VTD research in this focus area will be enabled by new facilities being developed at APG and existing facilities at NASA Glenn Research Center. Major VTD 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 variable speed power turbines, engine efficiency improvements, fundamental turbine cooling research, advanced transmission system and component technologies, mechanical components, 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 autonomous vehicle technologies that include perception, intelligence, human-robotic interaction, manipulation, and teaming. VTD has significant efforts in the development of autonomous system technologies at APG led by the Autonomous Systems Division. Research includes collaboration across multiple directorates within ARL as well as external partnership through the Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance (CTA) and the Micro-Autonomous Systems Technologies (MAST) CTA. In FY10, VTD, together with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and its CTA partners conducted seminal experiments establishing baseline capabilities for autonomous unmanned systems to operate in populated areas and to intelligently maneuver in unstructured environments capping an extensive multi-year effort focusing upon the development of advanced perception and planning algorithms. ARL initiated a program of fundamental research into the grasping and manipulation of arbitrarily shaped objects and continued novel research in aerodynamics, mechanics, and control to enable the development of future micro-scale vehicle systems.
Autonomous Systems research areas include perception, intelligence, human robot interaction, mechanics and control to enable the teaming of autonomous systems, from micro-systems to combat vehicles, with Soldiers. Major VTD research investments include facilities for the analysis of the micro-UAV aerodynamics, novel actuation for micro-systems, and integrated performance of unmanned systems. Research is conducted at facilities in the vicinity of APG and at Ft. Indiantown Gap, Pa.
The ARL MLP in reliability is an emerging focus area that is growing to support the Army needs in sustainment and condition-based maintenance for both platform and propulsion systems. VTD reliability research is performed primarily by the VTD Mechanics and Propulsion Division. VTD reliability efforts encompass investigations of reliability, durability, and structural health monitoring including prognostics and diagnostics for monitoring air and ground vehicle subsystems and structural integrity.
In FY10, VTD will develop new algorithms for detecting and identifying faulty gear components in a transmission and develop an analytical modeling methodology for determining the remaining useful life of airframe structures.
Major VTD research investments include reliability technologies for propulsion systems and vehicle structures for both air and ground systems. Research projects include prognostic and diagnostic models for vehicle structures, analytical modeling methods for damage tolerance design of vehicle structures, and diagnostic fault detection for drive systems.