Last fall, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for its Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP), which “augments current university capabilities or develops new university capabilities to perform cutting-edge defense research.” At the time, the BAA specifically encouraged proposals “for instrumentation supporting research in robotics.” Today, the DoD is announcing the results of the competition — $54.7 million in awards to purchase state-of-the-art research equipment — and at least a dozen of these awards involve robotics research.
According to the DoD press release (following the link):
The Defense University Research Instrumentation Program supports DoD’s investment of more than $2 billion each year in basic, applied, and advanced research at universities. It meets a critical need by enabling university researchers to purchase scientific equipment costing $50,000 or more. Researchers generally have difficulty purchasing instruments costing that much under research contracts and grants. The awards announced today are expected to range from $50,000 to $1.9 million and average approximately $288,000.
These planned awards are the result of a merit competition for DURIP funding conducted by the Army Research Office, Office of Naval Research, and Air Force Office of Scientific Research. Each office requested proposals from university investigators conducting science and engineering research of importance to DoD. This includes research underpinning advances in surface chemistry and physics, computing and networks, electronics and electro optics, neuroscience, fluid dynamics and propulsion, robotics and autonomous systems, and ocean, environmental, and biological science and engineering.
Noted Zach Lemnios, assistant secretary of defense for science and engineering, upon today’s announcement:
“The Defense University Research Instrumentation Program is essential to the department’s investment in university research. Instrumentation is critically needed to accelerate research progress and ensure world-class research training for the next generation of scientists and engineers in defense-critical fields.”
As the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) noted in a posting this morning, the DoD grants being rolled out today support robotics research in a wide range of areas, including unmanned underwater vehicles, mobile robots for field assembly, repair, and maintenance, autonomous seagliders for Arctic research, and micro air vehicles. “These DoD grants to university researchers will allow them to invest in robots and other kinds of high-tech equipment to augment their research.”
DoD’s investment is part of the Administration’s push toward next-generation research in robotics. As we’ve covered in this space, the President announced a $70 million multi-agency National Robotics Initiative (NRI) last summer, and the first awards through a solicitation spaning the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are expected to be announced soon.
(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)