ARL posts vision for Distributed and Collaborative Intelligent Systems and Technology Collaborative Research Alliance
On February 21, the Army Research Laboratory posted a notice about the Distributed and Collaborative Intelligent Systems and Technology (DCIST) Collaborative Research Alliance (CRA) (Solicitation Number: W911NF-17-S-0004).
Army Operating Concepts and roadmaps to 2040 and beyond envision integrating intelligent systems as force multipliers for improving the effectiveness and reach of Soldiers in complex military relevant environments. Recent Army studies have identified that intelligent systems have the potential to deliver significant military value, including opportunities to reduce the number of warfighters in harm’s way, increase the quality and speed of decision making in time-critical operations, and enable new missions that would otherwise be impossible.
Over the last ten years, the ARL has established an Enterprise approach to intelligent systems that couples multi-disciplinary internal research, analysis, and operations with extramural research and collaborative ventures through programs such as the Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance (CTA), the Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology CTA, and Multidisciplinary University Research Initiatives. The vision of the Enterprise has been to make unmanned systems an integral part of the small unit team and to develop systems that: understand the environment; learn from experience; adapt to dynamic situations; possess a common world view; communicate naturally; conduct useful activity; and can act independently, but within well prescribed bounds. ARL has also been working to scale intelligent systems down in size and enable collaborative systems for realizable dismounted Soldier Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) assets.
In extending this vision to 2040 and beyond, it is also envisioned that future intelligent systems will need to exhibit adaptable levels of autonomy and work across large heterogeneous teams of intelligent agents and Soldiers. Teams are expected to have the ability to perceive and learn across highly distributed components, work in complex and contested environments, and assist in making rapid decisions in the presence of large amounts of data. The Intelligent Systems vision addressed by this PA is one that integrates, potentially large numbers of heterogeneous physical agents and Soldiers in the command structure as well as sensor nodes within the collective; that can access data from external sources such as distributed unattended sensors and information from knowledge bases; that can fuse information from these external sources with the distributed and heterogeneous perception abilities of the collaborative team to form and then distribute a collective situational awareness as needed and appropriate; and can then use the distributed and heterogeneous processing and intelligence capability of the team to make rapid, and potentially joint, decisions (both locally and globally) to optimize and adapt missions in the face of complex environments, unexpected events, and adversarial actions. Some basic assumptions are that the system will include:
• Large numbers of agents – tens to swarms
• Heterogeneous mix – air/ground, large/small, manned/unmanned, fast/slow, varying levels of cognition, Soldiers in the command structure as well as sensor nodes within the team, smart sensors, and knowledge sources
• Highly distributed deployment over large areas
• Operations in complex, dynamic, varying, and contested environments
• Rapid Operational Tempo to include potential for some components operating at faster than human tempo and decision making speeds
This vision for a highly distributed and collaborative approach for future intelligent systems will lead to extended reach, situational awareness, and operational effectiveness against dynamic threats in contested environments and technical and operational superiority through intelligent, resilient and collaborative behaviors.
While it is important to develop component technologies, this vision is not about a singular technology or system but rather how to integrate varying levels of autonomy and intelligence with the Soldier across spatially and temporally distributed singular systems, small teams, and even swarm behavior all under one command and control architecture. And, in doing so, augment the capability of the collective well beyond that of any one component within the collective to address the Army challenge of high tempo operation in complex, contested, and unknown environments with little or no supporting infrastructure.
Full information is available here.