Reading Time: 3 minutes
AUSTIN, TX – Six companies have completed a first-of-its-kind Cohort Program as part of the Army Capability Accelerator (ACA), an effort conducted by Alion Science and Technology in support of the Army Applications Laboratory (AAL) and the Army Futures Command (AFC). The Field Artillery Autonomous Resupply (FAAR) Cohort was formed to support the Long Range Precision Fires Cross Functional Team (LRPF CFT) as it works to automate how the Army stores, ships, and loads munitions. The Cohort began Jan. 13 in Austin, Texas, and culminated Apr. 1 with capability concept presentations delivered virtually to LRPF CFT leaders.
During the course of the 12-week FAAR Cohort program, participants were asked to assess the Army’s artillery resupply process and offer solutions that could improve all or part of that process. To aid in their solution development, they worked directly with Soldiers and with one another. The resulting concepts include just-in-time supply chains, a modular robotic arm, and an ammunition management system among other solutions that work together across the complete lifecycle of artillery resupply.
“I remember how simple I thought the problem framing process was a year ago,” said Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, who leads the LRPF CFT. “What came out the other end was very illuminating in terms of how much I still had to learn, the value of having people from the outside look at a problem, and the structure of it. I was blown away by the evaluation of our ammunition process and, in some ways, how amateur it looks to an outsider. It just shows how much we can benefit from this collaboration and from the technology that’s out there that can be applied to a military problem.”
Following an orientation week in Austin, the FAAR Cohort traveled to Fort Bliss for week 2 of the program where they were able to explore the Army’s problem and equipment firsthand. This visit provided new insight that the companies used to produce draft concepts, which they reviewed with LRPF CFT leadership at Fort Sill during week 7. The participants used the information gleaned from that real-time collaboration to enhance and refine the final solution concepts they presented today.
“This is exactly the sort of thing we like to do every day — innovate and find solutions to really challenging problems,” said Matt Carroll, CEO of Pratt Miller, one of the six companies in the FAAR Cohort. “The AAL team that we worked with has been really world class, and it’s been great to work with all of the other companies as well,” added Jeff Cardenas, co-founder and VP of Innovation at Apptronik, which also participated in the FAAR Cohort alongside Actuate, CR Tactical, Neya Systems, and Hivemapper.
The LRPF CFT is exploring next steps with some FAAR Cohort companies as well as how to apply the learning and concepts uncovered through the Cohort Program to future operations and requirements.
“We want to apply this to our model and to our more traditional dealings with industry partners,” said Rafferty. “There are a lot of people who have only done things one way. But this reminded us how many really smart people are out there wanting to help us. What if we have routine periods of collaborating that were more serious than just monitoring the contract… that were actually about solving the problem? This type of exchange should be happening routinely. We should be fostering that. It’s much more powerful.”
ABOUT THE ARMY APPLICATIONS LABORATORY
The Army Applications Laboratory was established in 2018, along with the stand-up of the Army Futures Command, to act as a concierge service across the Army’s Modernization Enterprise (AME) and the broader commercial marketplace of ideas. Based on the 8th floor of the Capital Factory in Austin, AAL’s mission is to align innovative solutions and technologies with Army problems, resources, and programs to rapidly discover, validate, and transition technology applications in support of Army modernization. In other words, AAL exists to connect ideas from a broad range of solvers — startups, entrepreneurs, tech companies, VCs, research labs, and more — with the right people and organizations within the Army to close capability gaps and field novel solutions. Learn more at aal.army.
Army Applications Laboratory
Reach out to us to see how we can help solve your toughest design, engineering and production problems and bring your innovative vision to reality.