The Future of Battlefield "Things"

Living with ambiguity and chaos — A plenary talk from SPIE Defense and Commercial Sensing 2019
25 July 2019

The future battlefield will consist of active enemy, friendly, and by-standing resources, an environment (e.g. megacities and rural) that will be dynamic, boundaries that will be diverse and transient. Deception will be the norm. These characteristics translate into increased complexity for the warfighter, requiring situation-adaptive responses, selective collection and processing, and real time sense making of massive heterogeneous data over a pervasive network of "things."

In this plenary presentation, Phil Perconti, director of the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL), discusses ARL's research program called the "Internet of Battlefield Things" (IoBT) that couples multi-disciplinary collaborative research across a consortium consisting of university and government partners to understand, predict, adapt and exploit the vast array of networked devices that will be present on the future battlefield.

Perconti describes IoBt as the means to "live with ambiguity and chaos," fighting multi-domain operations. Disruption within Army research is vital, he says, even when "you have the best army in the world."

The IoBT consortium addresses fundamental research questions such as, how do we classify the multitude of devices that will be present and utilize them in a way to meet mission needs; how can devices learn to infer sudden changes and adapt quickly in the presence of uncertainty and adversarial perturbations; and how to distribute complex computations over sensing and computing nodes with dynamic availability and connectivity?

Perconti highlights some of the research efforts aimed at answering these questions and describes ARL's approach to collaborative research.

Prior to becoming the director of ARL, Perconti was the director of ARL's Sensors and Electron Devices Directorate where he was responsible for leading and transitioning the Army's primary basic and applied research programs in sensors, electronics, signal processing, and power and energy component technologies. Before joining ARL in January 2013, Perconti was the director of the Science and Technology Division of the US Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center's Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate for 12 years.

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