The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) Construction Engineer Research Laboratory (CERL) Robotics for Engineering Operations (REO) team recently participated in Project Convergence 2022 (PC22).
PC22 is a joint, muti-domain campaign effort to strengthen command and control, advance weapon systems, improve flow of information and enhance optimization of terrain through tests of evaluations, demonstrations and exercises. The goal of the project is to aid engineering operations with excavation equipment, robotic equipment and base platforms to go out and map an environment.
The REO team took their technologies to the National Training Center (NTC) in Fort Irwin, California, to test and demonstrate the capability to perform tele-operated, semi-autonomous and autonomous construction, meaning Earth-moving obstacle reduction. The team tested these capabilities in the hot, harsh environment, facing difficulties and challenges and putting in the time necessary to get the job done and support the mission.
“I am most proud of their dedication to the mission,” said Jeff Burkhalter, chief of the Warfighter Engineering branch at CERL. “We have a lot of really smart people that work within ERDC, and this team is no exception to that. They have demonstrated a high degree, not only of technical competence, but their willingness to do whatever needs to be done to get things accomplished.”
When prototypical systems, such as REO’s unmanned engineer platforms, are placed in harsh environments like NTC, they are required to perform military-relevant mission sets that can cause these systems to experience unanticipated failures. With their technical expertise and commitment to mission success, the team routinely performs field repairs and modifications.
“I am mostly proud of my team’s ability to adapt and overcome any challenges that we encounter while executing this research and development program,” said Ahmet Soylemezoglu, a CERL systems engineer.
The team also used the opportunity to train Soldiers on how to use the REO equipment, giving the Warfighters hands-on experience while the REO team collected data on how they respond to the machines. The Soldiers’ feedback during the exercises was all positive, and after and the exercise, there was open dialogue between the REO team and the Soldiers about the equipment.
“In some cases, we were even able to create new and unique hardware or software capabilities on the fly based on the feedback from the Soldiers in order to ensure REO and ERDC are successful,” said Soylemezoglu.