Top 10 Coolest Army Science and Technology Advances of 2019!

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Published on 18 December 2019

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On-demand energy, self-healing materials, and smart robots are some of the top 10 coolest Army science and technology advances from 2019.


This year has had its share of science and technology advances from Army researchers. The U.S. Army CCDC Army Research Laboratory, the Army’s corporate research laboratory, has the mission to discover, innovate and transition science and technology to ensure dominant strategic land power.

We've picked the coolest advances to showcase what Army scientists and engineers are doing to support the Soldier of the future with a Top 10 list from 2019:

No. 10: Artificial muscles made from plastic
Future Army robots will be the strongest in the world, if visionary researchers have their way. Robots could be armed with artificial muscles made from plastic. Army and academic researchers collaborated to study how plastic fibers respond when they are twisted and coiled into a spring. Different stimuli causes the spring to contract and expand, mimicking natural muscles. Artificial muscles could potentially augment robot performance, allowing our future mechanical partners to buff up, and pump more iron.

No. 9: Monitoring Soldier health and performance with biorecognition receptors
Army and academic researchers are looking at how to monitor Soldier health and performance in real-time, by developing unique receptors. Future bioreceptors will be small, simple to produce, inexpensive, and robust to environmental stresses.

No. 8: A water-based, fire-proof battery
Army researchers and their partners have developed a new, water-based and fire-proof battery. These aqueous lithium-ion batteries replace the highly flammable electrolyte in lithium-ion batteries, using a nonflammable, water-based solvent--and also using a lithium salt that is not heat-sensitive, allowing for batteries to be stored and used at a much broader range of temperatures.

No. 7: Generating power on-demand with hydrogen
Imagine if you could generate power on-demand, using just a tablet and some water. Army researchers are exploring potential applications for a structurally-stable, aluminum-based alloy that reacts with any water-based liquid to produce on-demand hydrogen--generating power without a catalyst.

No. 6: 3-D printing ultra-strong steel
A team of Army researchers have developed a way to 3-D print ultra-strong metal parts, by adapting an alloy originally developed by the Air Force into powder form. With a method called Powder Bed Fusion, a 3-D printer’s laser selectively melts the powder into a pattern. The printer then coats the build plate with additional layers of powder until the part is complete. The end result is a piece of steel that feels like it was forged traditionally, but has intricate design features that no mold could create, and is about 50% stronger than anything commercially available.

No. 5: Human interest detector
Have you ever wanted to get inside a Soldier's head? Army researchers have developed a human interest detector that can determine where people are looking and decode their brain activity. By monitoring brainwaves, researchers track neural responses and assess what captures a Soldier’s attention among a myriad of stimuli in threat environments.

No. 4: Artificial Intelligence to identify fuel-efficient materials
A new system of algorithmic bots could tackle the most complex challenges beyond human experimental capabilities. Army-funded researchers developed a system called CRYSTAL to explore new materials for long-lasting power for Soldiers. CRYSTAL relies on a collective of algorithmic bots that sift through hundreds of thousands of combinations and elements--a number so vast that it’s inaccessible through traditional experimentation.

No. 3: Robotic arrays for directional communication
An Army team has developed a new way for Soldiers to communicate in complex environments, with small robots that will use AI to self-organize into the array that is needed for optimal radio frequency.

No. 2: Self-healing material
Imagine a synthetic material that could heal itself when damaged. Army researchers and their partners have developed a reversible cross-linking epoxy that is 3-D-printable and is self-healing at room temperature without any additional stimulus or healing agent.

No. 1: Soldier-robot teams
Army researchers have been developing new algorithms and capabilities that are unseen in industry--enabling autonomous agents such as robots to operate in these unknown environments such as future battlefields.

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