AF Research Lab participates in DOD Lab Day
By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Command Information, Senior Airman Hailey Haux
/ Published May 15, 2015
WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Defense Department hosted the first ever DOD Lab Day in the courtyard of the Pentagon, May 14.
All services had booths, and one of the key organizations in the event was the Air Force Research Laboratory, showcasing an array of innovative technologies to the DOD’s top leaders, scientists and engineers, the media, and select high school students.
“What we see today is innovation in the foreground,” said Frank Kendall, the under secretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, during the opening ceremony. “We are in the pursuit of game-changing technologies ... things that are going to make the biggest difference to us on future battlefields.”
The AFRL has roughly 5,700 scientists, engineers, researchers and supporting staff coming up with innovative technologies.
“The work we’re doing is to provide the warfighter the technological edge,” said Maj. Gen. Tomas J. Masiello, the AFRL commander. “We have three lines of operation, and one of those lines is revolutionary technology. These are technologies that are true game changers, and we like to highlight hypersonics, directed energy and autonomy. We think all three of those will play (a huge role) in the air superiority fight of the future.”
The secretary of the Air Force talks about the Air Force powered by Airmen and fueled by innovation, and DOD Lab Day showed how innovation can be used as a tool to help the warfighters.
“We believe at Air Force Research Lab, we are the Air Force’s center for innovation,” Masiello said. “The way we view innovation is not new discovery, it’s not new inventions, it’s taking those existing capabilities and packaging them in such a way that you have a brand new capability. We have a deliberate process to do that and we have a great track record of getting innovative technologies to the warfighter in efficient and effective means.”
Among the many displays the Air Force had, one was called the Battlefield Air Targeting Man-Aided kNowledge or BATMAN.
“Our number one goal is to enhance the cognitive and physical performance of the warfighter,” said 1st Lt. Caroline Kurtz, the human factors engineer for AFRL. “We are always trying to increase the mental and physical efficiency of our operators and increase their situational awareness. They have a lot going on, and we are trying to make it easier for them because it’s a life-or-death situation for these guys.”
Some of the technologies the BATMAN team showed off were the "bat hook" and "bat dock," both allowing devices to be mounted on a person, giving them more flexibility.
“Within the first two hours we were here, we had people coming up to us and told us that some of the tools we have are something they want to use,” said 2nd Lt. Anthony Eastin, AFRL behavior scientist. “We’re making connections and DOD Lab day allows all of us to talk to one another to essentially work together and increase synergy within the whole Department of Defense.”
The AFRL and the other services were able to show off their work to a multitude of people with more than 5,000 attendees.
“Today is an opportunity to showcase our science and technology to Air Force leadership, and DOD leadership (among others),” Masiello said. “It’s our opportunity to bring just a sampling of the research and development, scientific and technical research that we are doing and showcase it to folks.”