Japanese Defense Industry Delegation Visits Army Lab

By David McNally
ARL Public Affairs

Robotics, autonomy and the future potential of machine intelligence are areas of common interest between the United States and Japan.

A delegation from the Japanese Association of Defense Industries visited the U.S. Army Research Laboratory Oct. 5, 2016, for briefings and demonstrations on the future of autonomy.

“The purpose of this visit is to understand what technologies will feed the Third Offset Strategy,” said Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Mimoto Akiyo of IHI Aerospace Co. Ltd.

The DOD’s Third Offset Strategy includes advanced projects in areas like robotics, miniaturization, and manufacturing that are meant to ensure the United States maintains military superiority.

Robotics researcher Mark Gonzalez (right) from General Dynamics Land Systems, briefs a Japanese defense industry delegation on a unique robot with strong, dexterous arms during an Oct. 5, 2016, visit to the U.S. Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. (Photo Credit: David McNally, ARL Public Affairs)

Robotics researcher Mark Gonzalez (right) from General Dynamics Land Systems, briefs a Japanese defense industry delegation on a unique robot with strong, dexterous arms during an Oct. 5, 2016, visit to the U.S. Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. (Photo Credit: David McNally, ARL Public Affairs)

Akiyo said his group is visiting the area to attend the Association of the United States Army exhibition and conference in nearby Washington, D.C.

During their visit, the group listened to briefings on human-robot interactions and perception in small robots and gave a briefing on Japanese unmanned systems research.

The day included technology demonstrations of ongoing projects at the laboratory’s Autonomous Systems Division.

Dr. Stephen Nogar, an ARL postdoctoral fellow, showcased his research on a small unmanned aircraft system with a tilt-rotor configuration.

Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Mimoto Akiyo of IHI Aerospace Co. Ltd., (center) leads a delegation of 20 businessmen from the Japanese Association of Defense Industries during a day-long visit to the Army Research Laboratory. (Photo Credit: David McNally, ARL Public Affairs)

Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Mimoto Akiyo of IHI Aerospace Co. Ltd., (center) leads a delegation of 20 businessmen from the Japanese Association of Defense Industries during a day-long visit to the Army Research Laboratory. (Photo Credit: David McNally, ARL Public Affairs)

“It has more controlled flight by tilting the thrust vectors to move from one state to the other,” Nogar said. “I’ve developed a numerical model of the control scheme that I plan on implementing.”

Nogar said he is working on using autonomous computer vision and sensing onboard the UAS.

“What we want to try and do is have our vehicle be able to perch on a tree branch and do that using only sensors located onboard the vehicle,” he said.

In another demonstration, the Japanese delegation observed a unique ground robot with arms from RoboSimian — an ape-like robot developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, California, that competed in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, Robotics Challenge Finals in 2015.

Dr. Jonathon Bornstein, chief of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory's Autonomous Systems Division, answers questions from members of the visiting Japanese Association of Defense Industries delegation Oct. 5, 2016. (Photo Credit: David McNally, ARL Public Affairs)

Dr. Jonathon Bornstein, chief of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s Autonomous Systems Division, answers questions from members of the visiting Japanese Association of Defense Industries delegation Oct. 5, 2016. (Photo Credit: David McNally, ARL Public Affairs)

“The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is part of the Army’s Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance,” explained ASD Chief Dr. Jonathon Bornstein. “We’ve taken the arms and placed them on a track platform.”

Researchers demonstrated the robot’s mobility and dexterity by moving its arms and showing how it can move large objects.

The laboratory seeks collaborative partnerships with industry and academia across the globe that lead to knowledge-building and research breakthroughs as part of its Open Campus Initiative, officials said.

“The Army Research Laboratory has been involved in autonomous systems, artificial intelligence by another name, for many years,” Bornstein told the delegation. “Our goal is to enable teams of Soldiers and unmanned systems to work together effectively.”

Army researcher Chad Kessens (right) briefs Japanese industry representatives on current robotics research during an Oct. 5, 2016, visit to the U.S. Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. (Photo Credit: David McNally, ARL Public Affairs)

Army researcher Chad Kessens (right) briefs Japanese industry representatives on current robotics research during an Oct. 5, 2016, visit to the U.S. Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. (Photo Credit: David McNally, ARL Public Affairs)

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