Scalable, Adaptive, and Resilient Autonomy (SARA) Funding Announcement Opportunity
DOD - Department of Defense (DOD W911NF-20-S-0005)
There will be an opportunity webinar on January 24th. A link to the webinar will be posted on the SARA Program website at:
- Proposal: 02/14/2020
- Duration: 9 months
Future Army forces will need to conduct cross-domain maneuver (CDM) and at times, operate semi-independently, disbursed, and while communications and infrastructure such as Global Positioning System (GPS) are disrupted or denied. Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) will play a key role in expanding the operational reach, situational awareness, and effectiveness of maneuver forces in CDM. The Combat Capabilities Development Command
(CCDC) Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is focused on developing fundamental understanding and informing the art-of-the-possible for warfighter concepts through research to greatly improve air and ground based autonomous vehicle perception, learning, reasoning, communication,
navigation, and physical capabilities to augment and increase the freedom of maneuver in complex and contested environments. The Scalable, Adaptive, and Resilient Autonomy (SARA) program is focused on developing and experimentally accelerating emerging research in autonomous mobility and maneuverability, scalable heterogeneous and collaborative behaviors, and human agent teaming to realize adaptive and resilient Intelligent Systems that can reason
about the environment, work in distributed and collaborative heterogeneous teams, and make optempo decisions to enable Autonomous Maneuver in complex and contested environments. In order to achieve this vision, advancements are needed in following:
• Novel methods for all-terrain ground and aerial maneuver to interact with and move through complex environments.
• Methods for scalable and heterogeneous collaborative behaviors in support of collaborative air and ground manned-unmanned teaming operations.
• Techniques for improved perception, decision-making, and adaptive behaviors for fully autonomous maneuver in contested environments.
• Methods, metrics, and tools to facilitate, simulate, and enable testing and evaluation of emerging approaches for intelligent and autonomous systems under Army relevant constraints and environments
• Experimental testbeds to develop and refine knowledge products to inform and transition technology to Army stakeholders.
Cycle 1 Technology Sprint Topic: Off-Road Autonomous Maneuver.
Sub-topic #1: Off-road autonomous “GROUND” maneuver: Army RAS will need to operate
in environments much more complex, unstructured, and with less infrastructure than what is
currently being developed for commercial applications such as driverless cars. Future Army
autonomous ground systems such as the Robotic Combat Vehicle will need to traverse complex
off-road environments with limited previous knowledge of the environment, human
interventions, or external supporting infrastructure. In order to demonstrate the necessary
robustness to unknowns and resiliency in complex environments, significant advancements in
algorithms for autonomous navigation in perception, learning, reasoning, decision making, and
adaptive planning will be required. Sprint sub-topic area #1 is focused on how to increase the
operational tempo and mobility of autonomous ground systems to traverse increasingly complex
Sub-topic #2: Autonomous “AERIAL” maneuver through off-road environments: Future
ground autonomous vehicles will not operate in isolation, they will be teamed with other ground
robotics, small and large unmanned aerial systems, and with dismounted and mounted Soldiers.
Sub-topic area #2 begins to explore how to increase the operational tempo and mobility of aerial
autonomous systems to navigate increasingly complex off-road environments such as forest
roads, along field edges, and above, through, and under canopy forested environments in order
to support ground platforms and dismounted Soldiers. Addressing this sub-topic area will require
significant advancements in algorithms for autonomous navigation in perception, learning,
reasoning, decision making, and adaptive planning to succeed. UAS may carry a diversity of
computers, sensors, radios, and other payloads. Hardware designs may implement possibly wellknown
methods but particular consideration must be given to the low size, weight, and power
requirements concomitant with small unmanned aerial systems. Sprint sub-topic area #2 is
focused on how to increase the operational tempo and mobility of autonomous aerial systems to
traverse increasingly complex off-road forested environments.
Sub-topic #3: Large scale heterogeneous autonomous systems experimentation: Software
infrastructure to orchestrate and manage large-scale air-ground collaborative experiments. Even
single agent experiments increasingly employ highly complex software systems requiring
management of execution, runtime monitoring, configuration, and version-control and validation
of emergency stop functionality and other safety measures. Replicating these complexities across
large-scale multi-agent experiments, including concerns such as vehicle deployment and battery
management, only compounds the challenge and deters reproducible experiments.
Eligibility & Submission Requirements
All funding is expected to be expended within the cycle period of performance. Available
funding will vary from cycle to cycle, for cycle #1 a total of $3M is expected. Multiple
awards are expected to be funded out of the Cycle #1 total amount of $3M. Proposals are
expected to be bid at a cost commensurate with the level of effort. Awards will be made
based on the impact to advancing the state-of-the-art. While sub-topic #1 is a priority, subtopics
2-3 are of high interest and ARL reserves the right to adjust the balance of research
across the three sub-topics based on merit of proposals received and potential impact to the
overall program and advancing the state-of-the-art. ARL also reserves the right to negotiate
with an Applicant to re-scope their proposal and associated costs in order to maximize the
available program funding.
Outside of questions posed at the Opportunity Webinar, all questions or comments concerning this FOA shall be submitted to the Government through the SARA Program websiteby January 31st.:
Comments or questions submitted should be concise and to the point. In addition, the relevant part and paragraph of the FOA to which a comment or question pertains must be referenced.