US Army Awards Top 10 Inventions of 2006
The US Army held its 5th annual “top 10 greatest inventions” ceremony recently in Arlington, VA, recognizing the Top 10 inventions of 2006. The top picks were chosen by Soldiers from active-Army divisions and the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command according to three criteria: impact on Army capabilities, potential benefits outside the Army and inventiveness.
Three of this year’s top inventions are geared toward defeating IED land mines, and there’s even one tracked armored blast from the past. Most inventions have already been fielded to soldiers on the front lines.
This year, all award winners were in-house; past years have included winners from contractors as well. Departmental winners included the U.S. Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD (4 wins); the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center in Picatinny, NJ (2 wins); and Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center at Redstone Arsenal, AL (2 wins). The other 2 slots went to different groups. Award recipients included:
Blow Torch Counter-IED System, U.S. Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD. This vehicle-mounted system detonates IEDs at safe stand-off distances.
Integrated Robotic Explosive Detection System, U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center at Redstone Arsenal, AL. Incorporates an explosive trace detector onto a robotic platform.
Plastic Shaped Charge Assembly (PSCA), U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, NJ. Remotely emplaced, the PSCA destroys known or suspected unexploded ordnance with higher accuracy than similar devices currently in use, and its low-fragmentation plastic housing eliminates collateral damage.
EM113A2 Rapid Entry Vehicle, U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center in Picatinny, NJ. The REV is a modified Canadian M113A2 Armored Personnel Carrier with bulldozer attachment that is lightly armored, full-tracked and air transportable. It provides rapid entry, non-lethal crowd control and rescue-squad insertion capabilities, allowing them to move and fire from within an armored vehicle.
Innovative features of the original REV 6 six Modular Crowd Control Munitions that can spray non-lethal rubber pellets into a crowd, a larger periscope for greater visibility, plus windows and Bradley firing ports modified for shotguns that fire non-lethal bullets.
The Spiral 2 version contains all these features as well as a bulldozer blade which provides the capability to breach detainee-constructed barricades, and a Bradley-style ventilation system that allows warfighters to fire the mounted shotguns with the hatches closed without worrying about a build up of fumes.
M1114 Humvee Interim Fragment Kit 5, U.S. Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD. Fielded as a ballistic protection improvement against small arms fire and fragments for the M1114 Humvee in April 2006, and has been bought in quantity as an upgrade since then. The Hummers remain vulnerable to land mines, an issue being addressed at last by the MRAP program.
Humvee Crew Extraction D-ring, U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center at Redstone Arsenal, AL. Combat locks on the up-armored Humvee often get so damaged the doors can’t be opened when under fire – or under water. The D-ring provides solid anchor points for the hooks of a tow strap, chain or cable to pull open damaged doors. Or other innovative options like the 10th Mountain Division’s “Rat Claw.” The project was handled by a Fast Assistance in Sciences Team (FAST) that deploys to help Soldiers solve problems that can be resolved within 6 months.
Remote Urban Monitoring System (RUMS), U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center at Fort Belvoir, VA. RUMS hardware combines emerging technologies in Wireless Local Area Network technology, night-vision cameras and unattended ground sensors to eliminate false alarms. Tripped sensors transmit an alarm signal to the camera module and operator after video and audio from multiple camera modules confirm the unattended ground sensor’s alarm signal.
Constant Hawk, U.S. Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD. “Uses an electro-optic payload to collect intelligence, and identify areas that require increased surveillance by other assets.” Actually, it’s a set of sensor systems deployed on the ground, and on Shorts 360 light transport aircraft. They’re coupled to programs that can sort through video to find the same location at different dates. Those changes – such as, say, disturbed earth indicating a possible land mine – may then trigger other investigations. Or a search back through the archives to pinpoint exactly when and how things changed. Read “Walking Back the Cat: The US Army’s Constant Hawk.”
OmniSense Unattended Ground Sensor System, U.S. Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD. Used to detect and classify personnel and vehicles in perimeter defense.
BuckEye System, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, MS. BuckEye uses a digital camera to produce geospatial information for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. It also produces high-resolution 3D urban mapping. Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael Harper said: “What it gives to Soldiers is added situational awareness they need to fight in an urban terrain… BuckEye has essentially mapped almost every major city in Iraq thus far.”
Additional Readings & Sources
- US Army (June 15/07) – Army Recognizes Greatest Inventions for 2006
- US Army Pictaninny Arsenal (June 14/07) – Picatinny development teams recognized as 2006 Army Greatest Inventors
- US Army Pictaninny Arsenal, The Voice – Picatinny employees recognized among Army’s top 10 inventors for 2006. Includes more specifics.
- DID (June 26/06) – US Army Awards for Top 10 Inventions of 2005
- Defense AT&L via FindArticles (Sept-Oct 2005) – Army Materiel Command : U.S. Army recognizes Top Ten Greatest Inventions of 2004
- US Army (June 16/04) – U.S. Army recognizes its Top Ten Greatest Inventions [for 2003]
- US Army News Service, via About.com (June 5/04) – Top Ten Inventions for 2003. Provides more details.