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Navy Opens Cutting-Edge Lab for Robotics and Autonomous Systems

Today, at a ceremony with OSTP Director John P. Holdren, the Naval Research Laboratory opened the Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research (LASR), a new facility located at the NRL’s main site in Washington, D.C.

Lucas, a mobile, dextrous, and social (MDS) robot, is one of many robots working in the new LASR facility. In the Damage Control for the 21st Century research project, robots like Lucas are being used to develop future firefighting capabilities for Navy ships.

Today, at a ceremony with OSTP Director John P. Holdren, the Naval Research Laboratory opened the Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research (LASR), a new facility located at the NRL’s main site in Washington, D.C.  NRL has served the Navy and the Nation for almost 90 years, and is responsible for scientific and technological breakthroughs such as GPS, deep ocean searches, radar, and systems for the identification of “friend or foe.”

LASR will support cutting-edge research in robotics and autonomous systems of interest to the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the Department of Defense, such as unmanned underwater vehicles, autonomous firefighting robots, and sensor networks.  The LASR will also advance the goals of the President’s National Robotics Initiative, a multi-agency effort to strengthen U.S. leadership in robotics and to enable human-robot teams to solve important challenges in defense, space, health, and manufacturing.

The research done at LASR will work to reduce the time and cost needed to develop autonomous systems by allowing NRL’s scientists and engineers to test new technologies in realistic environments such as oceans, coasts, deserts, tropical rain forests, waterfalls, and rock walls.  LASR also includes:

  • A facility that contain the world’s largest space for real-time motion capture, improving our ability to measure and control the motion of autonomous air and ground vehicles and  monitor the movements of humans interacting with them; and
  • Electrical and machine shops that will allow researchers to “print” parts directly from electronic drawings.

LASR capitalizes on the broad multidisciplinary character of NRL, bringing together scientists and engineers from diverse backgrounds to tackle common challenges in autonomy research. Its objectivesareto enable continued Navy and Department of Defense scientific leadership in autonomy and to identify opportunities for advances in future defense technology.While the LASR facility was created to support NRL research, outside collaborators on funded projects will be able to work with NRL scientists in the facility.

For more information on working in the LASR and with its staff, please contact:

Mr. Alan C. Schultz
Director, Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research
Naval Research Laboratory
4555 Overlook Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20375

Alan C. Schultz is Director of the Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research at the Naval Research Laboratory