Nanotechnology continues its march through the field of electronics, enabling faster and more energy-efficient computer processors, larger computer memory density and increased battery capacity. These ever-shrinking micro and nanodevices require advanced manufacturing methods to produce. Atomic-scale processing refers to a collection of these methods that may be used to deposit and remove material at the smallest scales, a single atomic layer at a time.
Army Research Laboratory
The U.S. Army is attacking defensive cyber operations from the laboratory. It is focusing new research efforts, including autonomous network agents, on ensuring cyber resiliency in the battlespace.
Some of this work builds on related efforts long underway at the Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory (ARL). Other thrusts aim at exploiting capabilities that are within reach but not yet ready to field. Still more are areas of research that have been given greater emphasis reflecting the more urgent need for cyber resilience.
The COVID-19 pandemic brings with it a new set of cyber vulnerabilities built around lifestyle changes throughout society, and these vulnerabilities cry out for new means of cyber resiliency. “It’s quite possible that historians will remember COVID-19 as one of the very important civilizational turning points,” says Alexander Kott, chief scientist of the Army Research Laboratory and Army ST for cyber resilience. “COVID-19 is acting as a forcing function. It forces us to accelerate the transition to a more virtual society than we were before, and it is accelerating the trend that was occurring before COVID-19 but was happening more slowly and less noticeably.”
Robots trying out to become part of the U.S. Army’s battlefield force now have their own real-world testbed built atop what used to be a nerve gas testing site. The Army Research Laboratory has built the Robotics Research Collaboration Campus, or R2C2, in Graces Quarters at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Formerly a superfund site, the area now is sprouting buildings amid mixed wooded and grassy terrain typical of what the Army may find on future battlefields.
The U.S. Army soldier proceeds methodically, picking his way through dense vegetative growth as he traverses a battlefield that geologically is ages old, but technologically is years in the future. With the enemy rendering satellite-borne GPS signals ineffective, the soldier resorts to his internal position-location unit that pinpoints his spot to the meter. His external sensor suite alerts him to the presence of enemy air and ground forces, but they are far enough away to be of no consequence yet. That raises suspicions in his mind, as they seem to have left the soldier’s area strangely undefended—even unattended.
The synthetic biology-related work that scientists at the Army Research Laboratory are performing may seem as if it is taken from a science fiction novel: harnessing the DNA of microbes to engineer military solutions such as self-healing paint on a tank. But to support soldiers of the future, this may be what is needed, a researcher says. The Army has to prepare soldiers to fight in multidomain operations across dense urban environments, megacities or austere environments, and synthetic biology capabilities could provide fuel sources, protective coatings, food or other necessities.
A future iteration of artificial intelligence would measure a soldier’s cognitive and physical state and trigger actions that would support, or even save, the individual in combat. These actions might direct the human on a different course, or ultimately initiate activities that complete the soldier’s mission or protect the individual in combat.
The vulnerabilities of machine learning models open the door for deceit, giving malicious operators the opportunity to interfere with the calculations or decision making of machine learning systems. Scientists at the Army Research Laboratory, specializing in adversarial machine learning, are working to strengthen defenses and advance this aspect of artificial intelligence.
Robots that will equip the future U.S. Army will progress through an academic type of development that ultimately will have them graduate with full autonomy as equal partners with soldiers on the battlefield, if the Army Research Laboratory has its way. This learning regimen will allow them to grow into their roles as they mature from teleoperated machines to guided apprentices on their way to fully skilled battlefield operators that are teammates with warfighters.
Researchers have developed an integrated fabrication process that for the very first time enables the design of soft robots on the millimeter scale with micrometer-scale features. To demonstrate the capabilities of their new technology, they created a robotic soft spider from a single elastic material with body-shaping, motion and color features.
The research team members are from Harvard University's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Boston University. The study is published in Advanced Materials.
ICF Inc. of Fairfax, Virginia, was awarded a $31,467,870 modification to an existing contract to support the Army Research Laboratory's Cyber Security Service Provider program. The work includes both research and development and defensive cyber operations amd will be performed in Adelphi, Maryland, with an estimated completion date of June 15, 2020. Fiscal year 2018 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $2,433,999 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity.
4D Tech Solutions* of Morgantown, West Virginia, was awarded a $25,000,000 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for personnel, management, supervision, materials, equipment, and tools in support of the Army Research Laboratory’s Sensors and Electronic Devices Directorate’s Advanced Prototyping and Experimentation Team. Bids were solicited via the Internet with two received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of April 19, 2023. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity (W911NF-18-D-0005).
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has awarded a $25 million contract to a group that includes SRI International and several universities. They will work to develop and secure the Internet of Battlefield Things (IoBT), as part of the IoBT Research on Evolving Intelligent Goal-driven Networks (IoBT REIGN) program.
Catapult Health Technology Group, Alexandria, Virginia, has been awarded a $10,111,130 modification (P00015) to contract W911QX-15-F-0014 for information technology services and support for the Army Research Laboratory, the Adelphi Laboratory Center and Network Enterprise Center. Work will be performed in Adelphi, Maryland; White Sands, New Mexico; Aberdeen Maryland; and Durham, North Carolina, with an estimated completion date of August 31, 2018. Fiscal year 2016 and 2017 research, development, test and evaluation; and operations maintenance (Army) funds in the combined amount of $3,372,608 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity.
U.S. Army scientists and engineers recently designed an aluminum nanomaterial that produces high amounts of energy when it comes in contact with water, or any liquid containing water. Since the nanomaterial powder has the potential to be 3-D printed, researchers envision future air and ground robots that can feed off of their very structures and self-destruct after mission completion. Another possible application of the discovery that may help future soldiers is the potential to recharge mobile devices for recon teams.
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) opened the Army Cyber-research Analytics Laboratory (ACAL) on July 19, a facility that unlike any other lab, provides industrial and federally-funded partners—including universities—access to highly-sensitive live cyber-security data, the service has announced.
The new research space was developed as a result of a partnership with Army Cyber Command and represents an extension of ongoing collaborative efforts with the Defense Department’s science and technology community, said Philip Perconti, ARL director.
Scientists supporting the U.S. and U.K. militaries are partnering to explore information system and distributed analytics solutions for coalition warfighters of the future. Possible solutions include a system that will generate security policies based on its understanding of its human users and technology capable of delving into information from a variety of sources to respond rapidly to warfighter queries.
Alion Science and Technology Corp., Burr Ridge, Illinois, has been awarded a $14,024,395 cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order (0081) on the AMMTIAC indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee, sole-source (FA4600-06-D-0003) for Army Research Laboratory sensors and electron devices. AMMTIAC shall provide technical, engineering and expertise in the application of advanced materials, manufacturing and testing to sensors and emitters and their components, including the design and integration of systems to incorporate solutions and the use of prognostics and diagnostics to ensure the functionality and effectiveness of those solutions.
Matrix Research Incorporated, Dayton, Ohio, has been awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract in the amount of $36,027,000 for research and development of concurrent detection, tracking, imaging, and classification/identification of targets within contested and challenging environments. This will include the development of models, hardware, software, algorithms and techniques spanning basic, applied and advanced research for both active and passive sensing. The Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8650-14-D-1722).
ICF International, Fairfax, Virginia $49,983,761 was awarded a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for support to the Army Research Laboratory Cyber Network Defense Research and Services. Work will be performed in Adelphi, Maryland with an estimated completion date of May 15, 2017. Army Contracting Command, Adelphi, Maryland, is the contracting activity (W911QX-14-F-0020).