Navy, Army open labs looking for robot, energy, fuel, mechanical inventions

New Army, Navy labs eye future technologies

USNavy's new lab
The US Navy and Army this week talked up new laboratories they are opening that promise to develop all manner of cutting edge technologies for the future.

In the Navy's case, the service today cut the ribbon on its Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research (LASR) in Washington, DC, that it says will "support cutting-edge research in robotics and autonomous systems such as unmanned underwater vehicles, autonomous firefighting robots, and sensor networks."

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"The LASR will also advance the goals of the President's National Robotics Initiative, a multi-agency effort to strengthen U.S. leadership in robotics and to enable human-robot teams to solve important challenges in defense, space, health, and manufacturing," the Navy stated. 

The LASR also includes: A facility that contain the world's largest space for real-time motion capture, improving our ability to measure and control the motion of autonomous air and ground vehicles and monitor the movements of humans interacting with them; and Electrical and machine shops that will allow researchers to "print" parts directly from electronic drawings.

Meanwhile, the Army's newest lab will open in April at its Detroit Arsenal.    The eight-in-one lab known as the Ground Systems Power and Energy Laboratory (GSPEL) offers numerous testing capabilities and an unmatched combination of resources in a single lab will offer what the Army says will be "shared access to industry and academia to facilitate the exchange of information and ideas to develop emerging energy technologies and validate ground vehicle systems - research that could also help the Nation achieve energy security goals."

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The eight individual labs are:

  • Power and Energy Vehicle Environmental Lab is the centerpiece lab and features one of the world's largest environmental chambers enabling testing at temperatures from minus 60°F to 160°F, relative humidity levels from 0 to 95 % and winds up to 60 mph. The lab's dynamometer and environmental chamber combination allows for full mission profile testing of every ground vehicle platform in the military inventory in any environmental condition.
  • Air Filtration Lab is capable of testing the air flow characteristics of various-sized media at four different flow benches using varying flows up to 12,000 standard cubic feet per minute. Each flow stream is equipped with an automated dust feeder enabling simulations from zero visibility to four times zero visibility for evaluation of air filters, cleaners and other components.
  • Calorimeter Lab is the world's largest and is capable of testing radiators, charge air coolers, oil coolers individually or all three simultaneously.
  • Thermal Management Lab handles work testing thermally-managed mechanical and electrical components in varying environments. It is comprised of a wide variety of chiller and heat systems for use with test bench heat exchanges for evaluating components and systems.
  • The Power Lab will evaluate major vehicle electrical systems including charging systems, air conditioning systems, hydraulic systems and associated components. The lab's two explosion-proof environmental chambers allow for expanded technical research.
  • The Fuel Cell lab will test future fuel cell capabilities for tactical vehicles. The lab enables the development and evaluation of fuel cell components and systems, including systems to reform JP-8 fuel, various fuel cell media and power conditioning. This work will help vehicles become quieter and more efficient.
  • The Hybrid Electric Components lab will look at electric powertrains with the principal emphasis on developing hybrid motor technology and contributing to the increased electrification of vehicles. Equipment used in this lab will potentially regenerate 80 percent power back into the building, making it possible to re-use the electricity.
  • The Energy Storage Lab will test and evaluate advanced chemistry battery vehicle modules. Explosion-proof battery test chambers enable safe testing of 10 - 60 kW advanced chemistry battery packs.

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