Essential Research Programs

As the recognized corporate research laboratory of the U.S. Army, CCDC ARL is responsible for performing disruptive and Army-unique foundational research and cultivating critically important knowledge and insight that can enable future Army force modernization capabilities.

To fulfill its role, CCDC ARL formulates hypotheses, develops probing research questions, and rigorously and systematically creates knowledge and understanding. CCDC ARL seeks answers to research questions to inform future Army concepts and provide stakeholders with the confidence that technologies can perform in Multi-Domain Operations. CCDC ARL has built upon its core technical competencies to form flagship research efforts—Essential Research Programs (ERPs)—that will drive research questions to closure.

For further information, please contact erp@arl.army.mil.

Artificial Intelligence for Maneuver & Mobility (AIMM)

Objectives

Revolutionize AI-enabled systems for autonomous maneuver that can rapidly learn, adapt, reason, and act in multi-domain operations.

  • Can we develop resilient autonomous off-road navigation for combat vehicles at operational speed that can autonomously move to a position of advantage against a near peer adversary?
  • Can we enable autonomous systems to reason about the environment for scene understanding with the ability to incorporate multiple sources of information and quantify uncertainty?
  • Can unmanned vehicles autonomously maneuver on the ground against a near peer adversary as part of an MDO force?

Impact

  • Autonomous mobility will enable Next-Generation Combat Vehicles (NGCV) to team with Soldiers more seamlessly, reduce Soldier cognitive burden, and create options for the commander.
  • Context-aware decision-making will enable NGCVs to conduct reconnaissance to develop the enemy situation at standoff and create options for the commander in the exploit phase of MDO that are resilient and transfer to novel domains.
  • Autonomous maneuver equipped with AI-enabled Autonomous Mobility and Threat Recognition are integral to fulfilling the Army Strategy by enabling the next generation of combat vehicles to fight and win against a near peer adversary in an MDO environment.

Partners

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • University of Texas
  • Georgia Tech
  • Texas A&M University
  • University of Washington
  • DARPA
  • University of Southern California
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Virginia Tech
  • General Dynamics Land Systems
  • Colorado School of Mines
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • University California, San Diego

Outcomes

Leading engagements with AI Task Force, Close Combat Lethality Task Force, and NGCV Cross Functional Team (CFT) to shape strategy and drive decisions for RCV autonomy.

  • Generated autonomy requirements with NGCV CFT for RCV.
  • Collaborating with academia to address NGCV gaps.
  • Working with FCC to inform concepts and requirements.

Publications

  • Deep TAMER: Interactive agent shaping in high-dimensional state spaces. In Thirty-Second AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence. 2018.
  • Robot Navigation from Human Demonstration: Learning Control Behaviors. In 2018 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pp. 1150-1157. IEEE, 2018.
  • Parsimonious online kernel learning via sparse projections in function space. Journal of Machine Learning Research (2016).

Convergence of Lethality, Protection & Autonomy to Dominate Ground Combat (CONVERGE)

Conduct foundational research that couples Lethality & Protection technologies with Autonomous Behaviors to increase combat vehicle effectiveness for teams of manned and unmanned systems

  • Can synergistic effects be realized by coupling Lethality & Protection component technologies with Autonomy to improve combat capabilities?
  • How can teamed ground/air combat platforms operate inside an adversarial A2AD environment and deliver Decisive Lethality during Multi-Domain Operations?
  • What combat vehicle behaviors can be replicated by AI agents to supplement Soldiers with reduced burden and increased speed?

Impact

  • Reveal enhanced combat capabilities from the insertion of Autonomy to increase Lethality & Protection of combat vehicles
  • Employ Force-on-Force Modeling & Simulation tools to quantify capability gains against a vetted operational scenario
  • Inform GVSC 6.3 efforts and NGCV by looking across multiple LOEs simultaneously
  • Execute critical Proof-of-Concept experiments in FY20, FY23 and FY25, framed relative to MDO problems, to reveal synergistic effects
  • Utilize AFC Futures & Concepts, TRAC, & Data Analysis Center interactions and products to shape ARL 6.2 research efforts

Partners

  • Distributed and Collaborative Intelligent Systems and Technology Collaborative Research Alliance (DCIST CRA)
  • TRADOC Analysis Center
  • The Futures & Concepts Center
  • Brandt
  • DARPA
  • Kawasaki

Outcomes

  • Combat vehicles able to survive all tactical battlefield threats by combining survivability technologies with protective behaviors
  • Teams of manned and unmanned combat vehicles that deliver asymmetric lethality at low Soldier burden by coupling weapons and behaviors
  • Reform “Iron Triangle” for unmanned combat vehicles – Mobility, Lethality, Protection

MOA/MOU: TTCP, NGIC
CFT Linkage: FVL, NGCV
Line of Effort 1,
Line of Effort 2,
Line of Effort 3

Foundational Research for Electronic Warfare in Multi-Domain Operations (FREEDOM)

Objectives

Persistent distributed, disaggregated, & adaptive electronic warfare (EW) technologies for multi-domain operations

  • Adaptive / Cognitive: How can we rapidly characterize complex or unknown emitters? What are the intrinsic characteristics of transceivers that enable EW fingerprinting?
  • Distributed / Coordinated: What are the benefits and limitations of distributed, coordinated, and coherent EW?
  • Preemptive / Proactive: How can EW deception techniques and algorithms introduce uncertainty in the enemy?

Impact

  • Agile EW with ability to adapt to new threats in real time
  • Hardware in the loop emulation-based laboratory to develop and validate concepts
  • Distributed, threat-agnostic RF sensing for detection, geo-location, and identification
  • Enhanced resilience and survivability by increasing spectral chaos and EM/cyber deception/decoys
  • Extremely low probability of detection communication modalities

Partners

  • University of Notre Dame
  • Southwest Research Institute
  • University of Texas at El Paso
  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
  • DARPA
  • Northeastern University
  • University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Purdue University
  • University of Colorado Boulder

Outcomes

  • Development of stand-in and handheld spectrum sensing hardware for Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR)
  • Demonstration of distributed EW with NATO SCI-297 (EW in Modern Congested Environment)
  • Demonstration of advanced EW techniques against passive kill chains
  • Advanced hardware-in-the-loop EW development and experimentation laboratory

Transition Partners

  • C5ISR Center I2WD and S&TCD
  • G3/5/7 Cyber, EW&IO Directorate
  • PM EW & Cyber
  • FCC

Human Autonomy Teaming (HAT)

Objectives

Conduct Research to integrate humans and AI to enable teams that can survive and function in complex environments.

  • How do we increase human understanding and prediction of AI agent actions, intentions, goals, and general reasoning?
  • Can intelligent agents effectively interpret and predict human behavior, actions, goals, and intents?
  • How do we integrate humans and AI to enable systems to move beyond point solutions towards more general capabilities that can survive and function in complex adversarial environments?
  • Can techniques be developed to predict human-technology team performance?

Impact

Provide Human-Agent teams that perform as well as Soldier teams but with additional capabilities including:

  • Greater team resilience with robust, adaptive performance
  • Fast, dynamic team reconfiguration to match capabilities
  • Faster, more informed decision making
  • Reduced risk to Soldiers

Partners

  • Texas A&M University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • University of Central Florida
  • DCS Corp
  • Columbia University
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • Northeastern University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Michigan
  • Dartmouth College

Outcomes

  • Approaches enabling Soldiers to rapidly train AI at the point of need
  • Transparency interfaces to improve Soldiers’ understanding of AI actions, intentions, goals, and general reasoning
  • Methods to plan ground vehicle missions by algorithmically considering both unmanned system maneuver and reduced Soldier load
  • Technologies and approaches for improving human-AI team performance through adaptive, individualized systems
  • Ecosystem of technologies that allow Soldiers to influence AI performance at different stages of deployment

Publications

  • Lawhern, VJ., et al. “EEGNet: a compact convolutional neural network for EEG-based brain–computer interfaces.” J. Neural Eng 15.5 (2018): 056013.
  • Waytowich N et al. “Cycle of Learning for Autonomous Systems from Human Interaction”. AAAI Fall Symposium Series, 2018.
  • Marathe, AR., et al. “The privileged sensing framework: A principled approach to improved human-autonomy integration.” Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science 19.3 (2018): 283-320.

Long Range Distributed & Collaborative Engagements (LRDC)

Objectives

Utilize foundational / cross-cutting S&T to enable LRPF capabilities against threats across echelons.

  • How do we expand munition kinematics (range, speed, maneuverability)?
  • How do we accurately deliver fires in contested environments?
  • How do we mass precision ballistic effects affordably?
  • How do we improve munition survivability through all phases (launch, flight, terminal)?

Impact

  • Expanded munition kinematics (range, speed, maneuverability)
  • More accurate delivery of fires in contested environments
  • Massed affordable precision effects
  • Improved launch, flight, and terminal survivability of munitions

Partners

  • DARPA
  • Office of Naval Research
  • Naval Surface Warfare Center
  • Argonne National Laboratory
  • Air Force Research Laboratory
  • Purdue University
  • Northrop Grumman

Outcomes

  • Extended solid and CHNO-based materials for increased energy density of propellants and explosives; small scale experimental techniques
  • Optimized grain topologies for gun/rocket propulsion; modeling of fluids with chemistry and constitutive behavior for post-launch propulsion
  • Optimized maneuvering airframe and control technologies with increased survivability; understanding of complex flight behavior
  • Collaborative guidance; model-based image-aided inertial navigation; data-driven object detection algorithms for real-time processing
  • Synergistic and collaborative terminal effects; energy-efficient warheads via novel materials, fragment geometries, and explosive-metal coupling

Physics of Soldier Protection to Defeat Evolving Threats

Objectives

Protection overmatch against future threats: Future intelligent and adaptive protective systems

  • What mechanisms can be used to manipulate material systems during ballistic impact?
  • How can ballistic impact damage at multiple scales be modeled computationally?
  • What chemistries, microstructures, and processing approaches will lead to ultra-hard materials that exceed the ballistic performance of traditional ballistic protection?

Impact

  • Revolution in approaches used for dismounted Warfighter personnel protection
  • Soldier ballistic protection from future combat threats
  • Enhanced Soldier battlefield effectiveness

Partners

  • Southwest Research Institute
  • Sandia National Labs
  • University of North Texas
  • Temple University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Argonne National Laboratory
  • University of Southern California
  • Caltech
  • Rutgers University
  • University of Delware
  • Purdue University

Outcomes

  • Changed the Army back face deformation (BFD) test requirement to enable lighter armor systems, approved by VCSA – June 2019
  • Science-based synthesis and processing routes for lightweight materials that break the toughness-hardness trade-off paradigm; Demonstration of new ceramic armor materials – July 2019
  • Transitioned Soldier torso protection effective against emerging threats at current armor weights; planned transition to CCDC Soldier Center – Sept. 2019

Quantum Information Sciences – Position Navigation & Timing (QIS-PNT)

Objectives

Foundational research to enable faster decisions than peer adversaries

  • Exploring how to exploit quantum effects for novel sensors & capabilities; beyond-classical sensor performance limits; and, entanglement-enhanced information processing, decision-making, and security
  • Investigating methods to provide GPS-independent PNT to the Soldier to increase mobility, communications, and enable advanced attack for any mission duration

Impact

  • Provides unprecedented position accuracy to enable multi-platform, coordinated maneuver
  • Provides exquisite timing and sensor accuracy to enable coherent, cumulative effects from multiple platforms
  • Enable extended mission duration in contested, GPS-denied environments

Partners

  • Combined Communications-Electronics Board
  • Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
  • DARPA
  • U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
  • Air Force Research Laboratory
  • Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command
  • SEMI
  • FlexTech
  • NextFlex
  • Maztech Industries
  • VA (???)
  • Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt
  • ETH Zürich
  • Qualcomm

Outcomes

  • Inform concepts for next generation Maneuver, NLOS-LOS Fires, Communications and Point Defense
  • Technologies enabling Soldier, platform, and autonomous systems to accurately shoot, move, and communicate in a GPS-contested environment.
  • Quantum metrology, exquisite timing, and inertial sensing
  • New computational architecture in the quantum regime, e.g., neuromorphic, reservoir, integrated photonics.

Collaboration

  • PNT (CFT)
  • FVL (CFT)
  • NGCV (CFT)
  • LRPF (CFT)
  • AMD (CFT)
  • Networks (CFT)
  • JPO (A&A)

Science of Additive Manufacturing for Next Generation Munitions

Objectives

  • Utilize Science of Additive Manufacturing for Next Generation Munitions to print custom munitions with double the range and increased lethality.
  • New Materials: Can we develop tailored metallic alloys and energetic materials that will increase munition range and lethality?
  • Design Tools: Can digital tools and methodologies that integrate materials and manufacturing processes with the application environment be developed?
  • Processing: Are new manufacturing processes that enable design and materials flexibility, repeatable, low cost and able to be validated and verified?

Impact

New materials: Tailored metallic alloys and propellants to enhance munition range, lethality and maneuverability
Design tools: Software with knowledge of materials, processes, and environment to adapt and compile optimized threat-responsive designs for both geometry and process
Processing: Enable flexibility in employment of designs and materials, yet repeatable and low-cost to verify and validate

Partners

  • University of Texas at El Paso
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • PPG
  • The University of New Hampshire
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • University of Iowa
  • University of North Texas
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
  • National Center for Manufacturing Sciences

Outcomes

  • Developed the additive manufacturing processing parameters to print ultra high strength steel, AF96. This is the highest strength additively manufactured steel in the world.
  • Establish foundational Architecture and Tools for threat responsive materiel on-demand and by-design
  • Establish the knowledge to design and characterize new materials and manufacturing processes with high confidence in performance
  • Develop the tools to efficiently capitalize on the full performance potential of materials through optimal design
  • Enable the Army to rapidly operationalize new materials and design

Publications

https://youtu.be/FNynHy3l6qg

Transformational Synbio for Military Environments (TRANSFORME)

Objectives

  • Harness biology’s capacity for custom material production and modification of material properties
    • Is it possible to match the speed of biological processes with that of operational needs?
    • How do we harness low energy biological processing methods to enable scalable expeditionary production?
    • Can we achieve targeted in situ reprogramming of biology indigenous to operational theaters?
    • What strategies are possible for inhibiting, protecting, or countering adversarial use of synthetic biology
  • Technology forecasting of synthetic biology
  • Identify factors that will inform and shape policy, ethics and approval for use of synthetic biology products

Impact

  • Synthetic Biology has the potential to tip the balance of combat power more than any other research domain
    • Ability to impact operations across the full spectrum: Soldier, Equipment, Logistics, and Infrastructure.
    • Adaptive and responsive control for advanced situational awareness, protection and countermeasures
  • Stay ahead of the Synthetic biology threat through accelerated innovation

Partners

  • University of Texas at Austin
  • Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies
  • Synthetic Biology for Military Environments
  • Texas A&M University
  • Imperial College London
  • University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Ginkgo Bioworks
  • Tufts University
  • University of Maryland
  • Lockheed Martin
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Indi Molecular

Outcomes

  • Accelerated synthetic biology discovery through prototyping pipeline
    • First products focus on low cost and tunable production of EO/EM materials and optical coatings
  • Demonstrated capability to reprogram living materials
    • First products focus on clandestine tagging, tracking, and locating in military environments
  • Knowledge products that inform future wargame simulations

Publications

  • Engineered integrative and conjugative elements for efficient and inducible DNA transfer to undomesticated bacteria, Nature Microbiology (2) 1043 1053 (2018)
  • Supercharging enables organized assembly of synthetic biomolecules, Nature Chemistry 11 (3), 204 (2019)
  • Protein catalyzed capture agents with tailored performance for in vitro and in vivo applications, Peptide Science 108 (2) (2017)

Versatile Tactical Power and Propulsion (VICTOR)

Objectives

  • Develop knowledge and understanding of materials, designs, sensing and controlto inform energy/power solutions to enable future autonomous systems
    • How do we maneuver in a contested environment with limited-to-no resupply?
    • How do we optimize and integrate hybrid-electric propulsion with reliability, range and low noise maneuver?
  • Develop future operational conceptsfor heterogeneous mixes of manned and unmanned systems and dismounts to continuously maneuver semi-independently
    • How do we intelligently distribute power for manned/unmanned systems and dismounts while semi-independently maneuvering?

Impact

  • Increased reach by increased agility, speed, range, and endurance of UAS
  • Improved survivability through reduced noise signature (hybrid-electric) and the ability to use a wide range of fuels in UAS/UGV
  • Improved lethality through efficient and standoff energy storage and distribution methods for direct power and rapid recharge of ISR assets
  • Improved reliability by higher performance propulsion materials and designs

Partners

  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • University of Michigan
  • University of North Texas
  • Northwestern University
  • Texas A&M University
  • University of North Dakota
  • Iowa State University
  • Sandia National Laboratories
  • Argonne National Laboratory
  • California Institute of Technology
  • University of New South Wales
  • KAIST
  • Danielson Aircraft Systems
  • General Electric Company
  • General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.
  • Northrop Grumman
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
  • Purdue University
  • General Capacitor International
  • Spark Thermionics
  • Physical Sciences Inc.
  • Mesodyne Inc.
  • SolAero Technologies Corp.
  • Masimo
  • Creare
  • Oerlikon Metco

Outcomes

  • Reduce fuel logistics by utilizing an Army relevant ignition technology research for multi-fuel capability
  • Improve engine performance and reliability through advanced lightweight and coating materials
  • Hybrid electric optimization/integration method and tool for UAS
  • Wireless power transfer and localization methods to enable an autonomous air-ground pair to redistribute energy
  • 80 Wh/kg fast charge battery technology capable of accepting full charge in 6 minutes at -20 to +55°C
  • Silent squad auxiliary power technology (10+% eff)

Recent Highlights

  • Achievement Medals for Civilian Service (7 personnel in 2019)
  • Civilian Service Commendation Medal (1 person in 2019)
  • First Program Review and Center for UAS Propulsion Industry-Academia Connection Days was held in May 2019