The Rocket City once again played host to the Association for the U.S. Army’s (AUSA) Global Forces Symposium this week. The event, which brings together thousands of participants, hundreds of companies, and countless displays of unbelievable brainpower, is one of the premier events hosted by AUSA . It allows leaders in government and industry to meet to discuss the future of the U.S. Army – a future that is becoming much more challenging. Here are some of the things we saw this week.
Virtual Reality (VR) is not just for entertainment.
When most people think of VR, they think of video games or watching movies. But imagine being able to perform training stateside because VR technology allows you to feel like you’re really someplace else. That’s the direction some training is going. Soldiers can view terrain or villages, fly aircraft, and practice working with hardware all in the virtual world.
The Robots have eyes.
One of the biggest entities on Redstone Arsenal is the Aviation & Missile Research Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC). AMRDEC is responsible for developing new technologies as well as finding solutions for seemingly impossible problems. One technology on display is a new way of doing quality assurance testing on manufactured parts. The process utilizes a robot that carries a special laser for 3D scanning. The scanning provides millions of data points across surfaces of varying complexity in mere seconds. The process, called 3D Metrology, helps avoid spending large amounts of money on unnecessary requirements for both modern and traditional machining and fabrication.
Please don’t drone on.
Autonomous vehicles are playing a major role in modern combat and will continue to play a growing role in the future. The U.S. has been the leader in developing these autonomous vehicles, but America’s enemies such as ISIS are getting smarter about using them, too. The typical response is to attempt to blow up a $100 drone with a $3 million missile. Those numbers don’t really make sense, so the Army is developing directed energy weapons with companies such as Boeing to take out drones at what amounts to the cost of a liter of diesel fuel. This is all part of a new strategy for the Army called Counter –UAS (unmanned aerial systems).
The world is more connected…how do you connect the dots?
AEgis Technologies, a Huntsville-based small business that specializes in mapping and visualization, held a demonstration on technology designed to give soldiers better intelligence about attacks and points of danger. Imagine a map covered in little dots. Those dots represent individual terrorist attacks. When seen as bigger picture, you can see trends and plan accordingly. The only problem is that intelligence doesn’t just come in one form, it is sourced from multiple datasets. AEgis has developed technology that can integrate all these data sources into one easy-to-read dashboard so military planners can understand their surroundings. This has applications beyond the battlefield. This can also be used to track connected devices such as cell phones, smartwatches or other communications devices to keep tabs on where first responders are in order to make sure they are safe or heading in the right direction of a crisis.
Pictured above: Mayor Tommy Battle and Business Relations Officer Harrison Diamond review the latest technology in military operations at the annual Association of the US Army’s Global Forces Symposium in the Von Braun Center