January 13, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Ocean Sciences Division tests the Mantas unmanned surface vehicle’s ability to conduct a detailed survey near Panama City Beach, Florida. The Navy is relying on help from the NRL and other laboratories to build a cadre of unmanned vehicles as a fleet multiplier. Credit: NRL/Daniel Parry

The Naval Sea Systems Command has made great progress in advancing the service's vision of developing a family of unmanned surface and undersea vehicles. To accomplish this task, it is nurturing an effort to add unmanned vessels, improving autonomous capabilities and supporting the open architectures required to share them across various platforms.

July 27, 2020

Analysis, Computing & Engineering Solutions Inc., Columbia, Maryland, is awarded a $19,062,904 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Systems design and development. This contract includes options which, if exercised, will bring the cumulative value of this contract to $100,273,144. Work will be performed in Washington, D.C. The services to be acquired consist of continuing advanced research and development for scientific, technical and engineering efforts associated with the development and integration of C4ISR systems. Work is expected to be completed by July 2025.

June 9, 2020

Space Ground System Solutions LLC,* Melbourne, Florida, is awarded a $29,596,469 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for research and prototype development of spacecraft electronics and space/airborne electronic systems and maintenance, development, enhancement and testing supporting mission operations of Department of Defense space assets. Work will be performed in Washington, D.C. The Naval Center for Space Technology (NCST), located at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington, D.C., is the designated lead laboratory for Navy space programs.

February 1, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Aaron Cohen, computer engineer and electrical engineer at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, discusses radio frequency relay testing with Amanda Bowling. To improve long-range communications, researchers at the lab developed a method to combine multiple weak signals into one stronger signal. Credit: NRL​

To improve long-range radio frequency communications, researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory are working on a method of combining signals at the receiver level after multiple relays and a single transmitter. The solution is meant to extend line-of-sight communications. Finding an affordable alternative to beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) communications usually provided by satellites, aircraft or drones is an important priority for the Navy and the Defense Department, says Aaron Cohen, computer engineer and electrical engineer at the Naval Research Laboratory, known as the NRL.

September 26, 2019

Assurance Technology Corp. (ATC), Carlisle, Massachusetts, is awarded a $56,583,799 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for research and development support services. The contract provides research and development services in support of the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Space Systems Development, Software Definable/Reconfigurable Systems: design, development, support, and integration for digital interoperability effort. Work will be performed at the contractor’s facility in Carlisle, Massachusetts. The expected completion date is September 29, 2024.

September 5, 2019

Utah State University Research Foundation - Space Dynamics Laboratory, North Logan, Utah, is being awarded a $24,999,998 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for electro-optical research and development. The contract provides research and development efforts in the areas of exploitation software and advanced sensor and processing technologies including digital cameras, processing, compression, command and control, analog systems, power, communications, telemetry, radio frequency/optical sensor payloads and electromechanical systems/support. The maximum total value for this 24 month contract, with no options, is $24,999,998. Work will be performed in North Logan, Utah, and is expected to be complete by September 5, 2021.

December 1, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL’s) work on adjusting how artificial neural networks learn aims to improve the manipulation capabilities of robots.  ktsdesign/Shutterstock

YouTube videos of robots running and jumping can be pretty persuasive as to what autonomous technologies can do. However, there is a large gap between robots’ locomotion and their ability to handle and move objects in their environment. Programs at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory are examining how to close this capability gap and improve the functionality of robots and other autonomous systems.

Autonomous capabilities have advanced, especially in the last 10 years, but robots still have a hard time performing ad hoc motions, particularly manipulative movements using a robotic arm or hand, says Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) roboticist Glen Henshaw.

December 1, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
The NRL is looking for a transition partner for MERLIN that wants to develop and possibly field small quadruped robots.  NRL

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL’s) work on its Meso-scale Robotic Locomotion Initiative, known as MERLIN, is advancing, reports NRL roboticist Glen Henshaw. The shoebox-size quadruped robot, meant to weigh in at 10 kilograms (22 pounds), features hydraulic-based legs for running, jumping or climbing—to navigate environments too complicated for tracked or wheeled robots.

And after several years of development, MERLIN is almost walking, Henshaw says.

April 27, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
Researchers from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory's chemistry division have developed a patent-pending, zinc-based 3-D sponge electrode that allows for rechargeability and performance on par with lithium, improving safety, size, weight and availability.

Researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL) Chemistry Division developed a 3-D zinc “sponge” architecture that will extend the life of the cells in today's single-use batteries and provide a safer alternative to fire-prone lithium-ion batteries, officials announced Thursday.

January 6, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
NRL's Christoph Englert examines the prototype Michelson interferometer (MIGHTI) being developed at NRL for flight on NASA's ICON mission.

When NASA’s Pegasus rocket lifts off in June 2017, it will carry scientific equipment and technology that might help researchers better understand space variations that contribute to disruptions in communications equipment, radar and Global Positioning Systems here on Earth.

NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) mission will study what happens in Earth’s upper atmosphere and the connections to environmental conditions on the planet, says Thomas Immel, ICON mission lead with the University of California, Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory.

“[The ionosphere] shows day-to-day, hour-to-hour variability that we have never understood,” Immel says.

July 28, 2010
By George Seffers

Daylight Defense, LLC, Poway, California, has been awarded more than $5 million to perform efforts associated with research into and development of quantum cascade laser demonstrator units for emerging directional infrared countermeasure systems for use against terrorist attacks.  The Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.