Gen. Maria Gervais, director of Synthetic Training Environment Cross-Functional Team with Army Futures Command, will serve as a keynote speaker at Potomac Officers Club’s Future Virtual Battlefield Event on Wednesday, July 22nd.
During the event, Gervais will discuss the evolution of warfare as defense units integrate emerging technologies. The Department of Defense (DoD) has made notable efforts to modernize the defense units through emerging technologies including artificial intelligence, virtual reality and other innovations to overcome challenges within modern warfare.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Warfare
The U.S. Army has begun initial stages to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into its combat vehicles, the service branch recently reported. The initiative will enable defense vehicles to drive itself, autonomously, and select and prioritize targets to relieve soldiers in multi-domain operations.
“Soldiers may have to operate in forests or deserts, and they may have to operate in a certain manner like moving stealthily in order to achieve some objective,” said John Fossaceca APM for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for Maneuver & Mobility at US Army Research Laboratory.
New applications of AI have consolidated data and streamlined multiple targeting sensors to destroy long-range targets and receive organized weather-specific terrain mapping from nearby drones. Autonomy will not only help Soldiers make decisions but also clearly explain the rationale behind its suggestions so that a Soldier can either approve the choice or intervene if necessary.
AI has the potential to analyze a massive amount of targeting data in seconds to improve attack options and shorten sensor-to-shooter time. The Army designated several research programs as essential for future Soldier capabilities.
One of the recent innovation programs, The Artificial Intelligence for Maneuver and Mobility (AIMM) Essential Research, has reduced Soldier distractions on the battlefield through the integration of autonomous systems in Army vehicles.
Army Virtual Reality Integration
Army soldiers have utilized virtual reality to view components of the service branch’s prototype, Long Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW), and gain insight on how the system is designed.
"We were able to stand as a group around an area called 'the cave,' which allowed all of us to see, in 3D, through special eyewear, the Transporter Erector Launcher and missile as one," said LTC Aaron Bright, the chief of the Operational Training Division of the Directorate of Training and Doctrine at Fort Sill.
The Army has integrated virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality technology to walk around and "touch" the Army's prototype LRHW system as an interactive, true-to-scale, three-dimensional model.
The Collaborative Human Immersive Laboratory (CHIL) has allowed the Soldiers to view the equipment from any angle, at any distance and manipulate it as needed in order to better understand its operation and recommend improvements.
"I was able to grab pieces of the LRHW with my hands and move them weightlessly to the side to get a better look at another part, and to better understand how the system as a whole works. The kinds of things that would take hours with a crane, and several more hours with tools, we were doing on our own in seconds,” added Bright.
Recent Defense Innovations
Army engineers at Picatinny Arsenal have recently developed an advanced armament system that has integrated a medium caliber weapon, ammunition, fire control and sensors to engage targets at extended ranges.
“The combination of enhancements not only give gunners greater versatility, but we anticipate that overall gunner operations could be as much as three times faster,” said Kevin Fitzpatrick, project officer for the new system at the Advanced Armaments Division of the Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center, located at Picatinny Arsenal.
The armament system technologies will support the Army Modernization Priorities within the development portfolio of the Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team (NGCV CFT). The system will enable gunners to make the right firing decision quicker, with greater accuracy, at farther distances, to establish dominance on the battlefield.
“These technologies, coupled with an advanced fire control system, optimize the system’s lethality to maximize the number of stowed kills and provide a lethal capability that will enable overmatch against our pacing threats,” said Robert Tani, Ground Combat Development Team Lead, Medium and Cannon Caliber Munitions Division.
How COVID-19 has Impacted Defense Innovation
The defense department has hosted in-person hackathons to promote innovative technologies to work with operators and warfighters. After the pandemic, DoD transferred its efforts online. By hosting the challenge online, NSIN was able to pull in teams from across the United States, the United Kingdom and Singapore, with over 200 registrants.
Given the continued remote-work environment, the hackathons can generate vital solutions for warfighters across the department. The DoD’s program has proven successful and has enabled the department to solve pressing problems and continue with modernization without all in the name of safety and national security.
The panel will feature Scott Gilman, deputy director of the U.S. Army Modeling and Simulation Office (AMSO); Favio Lopez, chief operations officer with Trideum; and Eric Weisel with Virginia Modeling, Analysis & Simulation Center at Old Dominion University (ODU); and Michael Enloe with Army Futures Command.
As the federal government and defense agencies continue to integrate more emerging technologies, the public and private sectors must present a united front to transform legacy mindsets by widening skills gaps in a process-driven culture risk to enhance DoD’s agility and battlefield edge.