The U.S. DOD is seeking solutions to address its energy needs – XR technologies could have an important role to play

In General XR News

March 28, 2023 – The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Operational Energy – Innovation (OE-I) office is seeking solutions for addressing energy knowledge gaps and improving the understanding of how energy functions as an underlying enabler or constraint to critical missions and activities.

The DOD’s energy use varies considerably, and ranges from liquid fuel to batteries; local, unreliable and ‘dirty’ power grids to modernized green energy plants; and permanent base power to mobile and austere power generation. In its ‘Commanding Energy Needs Statement’ outlining its goals, the DOD has stated that it is seeking solutions that can look across multiple military use cases and inform better decision making as it relates to energy enabled operations.

The results of the DOD’s effort to find solutions will inform decision-makers about emerging and available technology solutions that could enhance or improve the department’s operational capabilities. The key technology areas of primary interest to the DOD include:

Energy Situational Awareness: Capabilities to collect, aggregate, and understand energy data (e.g., remaining fuel supplies, required kilowatts per hour of operation, tracking disruptions to power distribution), and then communicating and displaying this data at the appropriate levels.

Energy Informed Planning: Tools and techniques to understand and incorporate the impact of energy data into plans and courses of action. These solutions use energy data to inform the full range of decisions from prepositioning and logistics, to maneuver and engagement.

Identifying Efficiencies: Capabilities to identify and realize opportunities that reduce energy consumption. Relevant solutions include tools and techniques to identify trends in energy use and potential methods to reduce use or demand.

Interoperable Energy Networks: Investments in commanding energy that anticipate and prepare for evolving standards and capabilities, with consideration for interoperability and open-source standards for hardware, software, and networks, as well as current and potential future threats to ensure resilient future networks.

Training and Education:  Tools, processes, and techniques to support intelligent decision-making and energy literacy that incorporate DOD training doctrines and best practices. This need area also includes education and curriculums that help to improve understanding of energy’s impact on potential actions and identify and reinforce informed and effective energy decisions.

Novel Energy Technologies: In addition to the above noted specific need areas, the DOD is interested in hearing of any novel energy technology that may positively affect the joint force.

A U.S. Air Force Airman uses an augmented reality welding system to train on welding a groove well.

Within these key areas, the DOD has noted several ways in which immersive and metaverse technologies (virtual, augmented and mixed reality) could play an important role in filling the department’s needs. For example:

  • Virtual or augmented reality (VR/AR) training solutions to educate either an individual or class;
  • Tools, processes, and techniques for providing energy understanding at the policy, operational or tactical level;
  • Visualization of data and information relevant to energy situational awareness;
  • Informed decision support tools for DOD users across various levels of command, location and operations;
  • Solutions that enable near real-time situational understanding by reducing data overload and resolving current data deficiencies;
  • Analytical tools and modeling/simulations that integrate existent systems and simulated/virtual systems;
  • Verifiable machine learning/artificial intelligence (ML/AI) enabled monitoring and trend analysis;
  • Use of AI assisted human-in-the-loop (HITL) training solutions and products;
  • Smart interfaces that increase interoperability and modularity; and many more.

According to the DOD, selected solutions will focus on rapidly maturing capabilities that could be leveraged by deployed forces in the Indo-Pacific region and other military areas of responsibility. In addition, the DOD has specified that solutions must fill other needs within a broader policy and strategic context, including achieving goals for positive climate impact and green technologies. As such, the DOD stated that it needs:

  • Technologies that adapt to, and maximize the impact of, energy resources;
  • Methods to ensure energy availability in contested environments; and
  • Decision support tools to improve situational awareness, understanding, and trust around said energy resources.

In addition to meeting these needs, proposed solutions should ensure that associated data, information, technologies, and services are understandable and visualized in a way that is appropriate for anticipated user (e.g., by a policy planner, base commander, or operator). Furthermore, assets should be interoperable with existing DOD resources and operations whenever possible so as to ensure a smooth transition into a fielded capability.

Companies interested in participating in the DOD’s Innovation Outreach Solutions Meeting can submit a single application via email to the DOD. To find out how and where to submit, get in touch with Auganix.

All applications must be received by the DOD on or before 5:00 PM EDT, 31 March 2023. Selected companies will then have an opportunity to make short technical presentations to government representatives about their potential solutions scheduled for May 30-31, 2023 in San Diego, California.

Image credit: Department of Defense / Staff Sgt. David Owsianka / Air Force Staff Sgt. Lindsey Gulliver

About the author

Sam Sprigg

Sam is the Founder and Managing Editor of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he has been covering XR industry news for the past seven years.