ARL's improvements to helmet, bio threat detection technologies win Army-wide SBIR honors

May 02, 2011

Story Highlights

  • Two ARL SBIR projects win Army-wide SBIR honors.
  • Development of manufacturing process could lead to improved combat helmets.
  • Development of real-time, autonomous, stand-off and detection system for explosives could lead to improved safety.

A project led by WMRD's Dr. Shawn Walsh, that looks at improving combat helmets, and one led by ARO's Dr. Russell Harmon, that addresses stand-off and detection for explosive residues on vehicles, are two of the Army's 11 award recipients for the 2011 Army-wide honors for small business innovation research (SBIR).

Walsh's project, "Low Cost Manufacturing of Ballistic Helmets," shared with Midlothian, Va.- based process and logistics services company INTER Materials, LLC, included the development of a manufacturing process that utilizes newer thermoplastic composite materials to meet structural and ballistic requirements for the Enhanced Combat Helmet (ECH) and the Light Weight Advanced Combat Helmet . The original SBIR topic and Phase I and II of the SBIR were initiated by Dr. Brian Scott, and transitioned to Walsh for technology maturation and commercialization efforts.

This new process is intended to produce helmets that have 35-45 percent greater ballistic protection at a manufacturing cost comparable with the current ACH. The project is also the recent recipient of the SBIR Extended Support Program recognition, which provides additional funding to continue the commercialization activities.

ARL's groundbreaking research findings in helmet technology help military and industry's modeling and simulation and medical communities broaden the solution space that impacts head-protection systems for today's fighting forces. Working in support of Program Manager Solider Protection Individual Equipment and Natick Soldier Research and Development Engineering Center, the goal is to field ECH soon, and explore application of the novel materials and processes for lighter weight alternatives to the currently fielded Army Combat Helmet.

Harmon's project, ""Real-Time Chemometrics and Sensor Fusion Technology", with ChemImage BioThreat LLC, a Pittsburgh company that specializes in chemical, Raman and fluorescence imaging technologies for chem-bio applications, included the development of a real-time, autonomous, stand-off and detection system for explosive residues on vehicle surfaces, IED emplacements, and other in-theater threats.

With this technology, the Army expects to gain real-time detection of chemical, biological and explosive threats.

A second ARO project concerning chem-bio detection, managed by Dr. Dwight Woolard, ARO, with Andover, Mass., company Physical Sciences, Inc., is also recognized. The project, "High Throughput Processing for Hyperspectral Imaging Sensors", is looking to develop a signal processing system to facilitate real-time detection of chemical and biological threats via analysis of cyperspectral infrared imagery. The processor will support simultaneous detection of up to 16 different target materials using a spectral-matching-based detection algorithm.

According to Mary Cantrill, ARL Program and Budget Office, there were 649 Army SBIR projects eligible to be considered for the fiscal 11 Army SBIR Achievement Awards. ARL had 101 eligible SBIR projects. After a thorough review and nomination process, the ARL projects were narrowed down to 15. In fiscal 11, there were only 11 awards to be distributed across the Army SBIR program.

The SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs allow small, high-tech U.S. businesses (less than 500 employees) and academia the opportunity to provide innovative research and development solutions in response to critical Army needs. By capturing the tremendous and agile talents of the U.S. small business community, the SBIR and STTR programs benefit the Department of Defense, the private sector, and our national economy. This portal provides all the information necessary to participate in these programs.

The Army is the only federal agency to host an awards program recognizing top small businesses that represent the best in research and development. The Army SBIR Achievement Awards Program is sponsored by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology DASA(R&T) and is executed by the Army SBIR Program Management Office.

The nominations were exceptional and were evaluated based on four criteria: originality and innovation of research; relevance of the research to the Army mission; immediate commercialization potential of the research, reflecting the primary goal of bringing technology and products to the marketplace; and overall quality performance of the project.


Last Update / Reviewed: May 2, 2011