Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content


Spotlights on Innovation

August 2017


For innovators, properly scaling solutions is a recurrent challenge. Frequently, when solving a tactical or operational difficulty well-meaning problem-solvers look for comprehensive systems which do away with a whole class of problems. The World War II German Air Force, for example, introduced jet and rocket engines into aircraft, but delayed their use by trying to develop both fighter and bomber aircraft. Desperate for a solution to their loss or air superiority, the Germans overcomplicated their problems, and deployed small numbers of Me-262 and -163 airplanes, which reached the skies over Europe far too late to influence the war. Today, the U.S. sea services also seek complex systems which take much time to deliver, cost more than intended and need more time to fix. Simpler is often easier, cheaper and better.

USNavalResearchLaboratory, Naval Center for Space Technology (NCST): Software Reprogrammable Payload (SRP) is an Agile-reprogrammable capability for concurrent battlefield Communications, Relay, SIGINT and EW Missions including Digital Interoperability.


Sailors with smart phones can now access and use hundreds of official U.S. Navy mobile apps providing important services such as training, pay data, career services and life-cycle management information, Navy officials said. The emerging program was inspired by sailors accustomed to using Androids and iPhones; they approached the Navy leadership and explained the desire for them to use apps and interact in the way people do with smart phones.

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and Office of Naval Research: Tactical Free Space Optics (FSO) augments existing LOS RF Systems to provide robust operational capability.


Unmanned aerial systems provide the Navy and Marine Corps with revolutionary capabilities; however, the Department of the Navy (DON) should continue to utilize manned systems and begin integrating manned and unmanned aerial vehicles.

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory: The EM Railgun launcher is a long-range weapon that fires projectiles using electricity instead of chemical propellants. Magnetic fields created by high electrical currents accelerate a sliding metal conductor, or armature, between two rails to launch projectiles at 4,500 mph. Railgun R&D is led by NSWCDD.


High above the Persian Gulf, an Iranian drone crosses the path of American fighter jets lining up to land on the USS Nimitz. The drone buzzes across the sky more than a mile above the massive aircraft carrier and is spotted by the fighters. It is unarmed. But for the senior Navy commanders on the ship, the presence of the enemy drone so close is worrying. Their biggest fear is the surveillance aircraft will start carrying weapons, posing a more direct threat to U.S. vessels transiting one of the world's most significant strategic and economic international waterways. "It's just a matter of time before we see that," said Navy Rear Adm. Bill Byrne, commander of the carrier strike group that includes the Nimitz. He said the Iranian drone activity has "generated a lot of discussion" and was becoming an increasingly pressing matter of concern.

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory launches Mesoscale Robotic Locomotion Initiative (MeRLIn) to provide backpack-able legged robots to the warfighter.


BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- The Marine Corps Innovation Challenge was established to bring new ideas to the warfighter from the warfighter. Several Marines introduced their winning innovations to senior leaders during a presentation session at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, in Bethesda, Maryland, Aug. 15. Carderock's Additive Manufacturing Project Office, along with the Corrosion and Coatings Engineering Branch, provided support for the competition. They hosted three of the seven winners - Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Ben Lacount, Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Daniel Diep and Marine Corps Capt. Kyle McCarley - earlier in the year. These Marines were given the opportunity to work with Carderock engineers in the Manufacturing, Knowledge and Education (MAKE) Lab to prototype their ideas using the MAKE Lab's 3-D printers and additional resources.

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, develops UAV-capable Hyperspectral Imager For Environmental Intelligence In Water And Land Areas In The Littorals.


U.S. European Command’s computer network security was greatly improved by one sailor’s innovative idea. CDR Audrey G. Adams championed the use of an undocumented Windows feature to instantaneously detect insider threat security incidents on the USEUCOM SIPRnet enclave. The elegance and extremely low cost to implement and maintain her new method was especially noteworthy. Adams’ solution dovetails nicely with existing functionality and purpose even while it shores up emerging deficiencies in current methodologies. For her efforts on this project, CDR Adams was recognized for thinking “Outside the Box” as a part of the 2016 Secretary of the Navy’s Innovation Award program.

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, develops laser printing of electronics which enables development of "smart" structures by leveraging advantages of laser-based direct-write processes with additive manufacturing.


Testing of emerging underwater drone technologies by the U.S. Navy is under way in Rhode Island and Florida at the 2017 Advanced Naval Technology Exercise, or ANTX.

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, displays research to quantify mild traumatic brain injuries to understand blast operational environment, improve training protocols, reduce mTBI/medical costs


U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Detection of explosives and explosive devices is critical for warfighter protection. @NRL technology uses IR lasers and IR cameras to detect trace explosives.


CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — The Marine Corps is looking to make additive manufacturing as expeditionary as the operating forces using it. The X-FAB — which stands for expeditionary fabrication — facility is a self-contained, transportable additive manufacturing lab that can deploy with battalion-level Marine maintenance units. The 20-by-20-foot shelter is collapsible for easier transport, and houses four 3-D printers, a scanner and computer-aided design software system that make quick work of replacement and repair part fabrication.

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, displays dusty plasmas used to control charged microparticle plasmas for mitigation of hypersonic vehicle radio blackout and improvement of 3D printing.


NPS student Lt. Todd Coursey had an idea, that desktop manufacturing devices like 3D printers and laser cutters could be utilized to assist transitioning veterans. Recognizing the merit of his initiative, the Veterans Administration (VA) selected Coursey's idea for presentation at the latest VA Innovation Demo Day, August 8, where teams across the nation offered forward-leaning solutions to improve services for U.S. veterans. "3D printing can not only be used as a form of art therapy, and advancing the variety of rehabilitation services offered to our vveterans, but, in the process of creating and printing, veterans acquire design and manufacturing knowledge that can assist in future employment," Coursey explains.

The development of compact, portable plasma sources for the treatment of liquids and biological materials. While the efficacy of plasma sterilization and ability of plasma to drive biological responses has been established, the basic science and fundamental pathways driving these results have yet to be understood. Warfighter benefits include food preservation and sterilization, environmental remediation, as well as wound treatment and other therapeutic applications of plasma.


As part of the Better Buying Power initiative, General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) submitted a proposal to Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Groton (SSGR) Contracts Department (Code 400) relating to closing overaged contracts on a global basis. After reviewing the proposal, the chief contracting officer challenged her team to determine if the contractor's proposal could be successfully worked to function within the requirements of the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), requiring significant innovation by all involved.

The NRL has developed novel materials and methods for covert marking of objects and tracking their movement and/or locating tagged objects from aerial platforms. This capability allows warfighters to positively identify targets and/or distinguish “Friend or Foe” in cluttered environments.


Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Corona designed, developed, installed, and demonstrated a Yard Patrol craft Replay System (YPRS) to enhance the effectiveness of live ship-handling events during U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) midshipmen training. YPRS delivers the capability to collect various ship-handling and maneuvering data and then display it graphically. With this capability, USNA instructors possess a tool to efficiently record and replay ship-handling maneuvers during a training voyage as well as during specific training sessions such as man-overboard, pier landings, anchoring, and tactical maneuvering. With the YPRS, instructors can quickly prepare an accurate debriefing to students, enhancing the value of their learning experience.

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (USNRL) explores atmospheric monitoring using GFCR Limb solar Occultation (GLO) for remote detection of trace gases.


NPS graduate U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Sung Park, along with Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Professors Murali Tummala and John McEachen, have been awarded a patent for their invention, "Method and Apparatus for Hybrid Time Synchronization Based on Broadcast Sequencing for Wireless Ad Hoc Networks." Park, pictured during his graduation from the university in September 2014, created a hybrid of two, time synchronization protocols resulting in significant improvements in network synchronization and the transmission of time-stamped messages.

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (USNRL) Adaptive and Reconfigurable RF Technologies offer Co-site interference and adversarial jamming mitigation.


U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (USNRL), Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering (CBMSE) tracks global antibiotic resistance and provides situational awareness of infectious diseases for deployed warfighters.


Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) Sailors and civilians participated in two-day illuminate Thinkshops at Naval Base Point Loma on July 31 to Aug. 1 and Aug. 2 to 3. The illuminate Thinkshop is a Sailor-to-Sailor training series sponsored by U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF). Co-created by USFF Sailors, Lt. John Hawley and Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class Richard Walsh, the illuminate Thinkshop provides an interactive and creative way to bring the workforce together to discover innovative solutions to issues that impact mission, culture and quality of work.

SWORD is the primary tool for simulating radiological/ nuclear environments for the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Maritime Weapons of Mass Destruction Detection Program (M-WMD-D), and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Operations Research, Modeling & Analysis Office (J91SM). SWORD has more than 230 users worldwide.


The 29th Annual National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Department of the Navy (DON) Gold Coast Small Business Procurement Event will be held August 22 - 23 in San Diego, CA at the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center. Last year's event grew to over 1500 registrants from all across the country and we anticipate that this year's event to continue that trend.

OPALS is a local space situational awareness (SSA) sensor concept. Applications range from small debris detection for anomaly resolution and/or debris mapping to aiding proximity operations. Local SSA presents an increasing need in the increasingly congested and contested space environment.


The US Navy (USN) and Marine Corps (USMC) have demonstrated a mobile, containerised, 3D printing facility capable of manufacturing replacement parts at forward deployed positions. The Expeditionary Manufacturing Mobile Test Bed (EXMAN) is an effort to evaluate and integrate additive manufacturing across the navy, Dr Kristin Holzworth, director of the Joint Advanced Manufacturing Region (JAMR) at the Space and Naval Warfare System Command (SSC) Pacific, told Jane’s .

Persistent VISTA is an U.S. Naval Research Laboratory concept to create passive, near real-time and forecasting capabilities for assessment of red-force over the horizon surveillance and targeting capabilities for Anti-Access/ Area Denial (A2/AD) force protection.


A Dahlgren lead team of engineers and scientists, which includes partners in industry, academia, and warfare centers, are working on the development of the patented Extreme Power Internal Combustion (EPIC) Engine. Research on the new EPIC concept is currently being funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

Low AC loss conductor is essential for fully superconducting power systems and enables highly efficient and power dense rotating machines for Naval applications.


CTAR provides direct access to customized commercial satellite imagery with direct downlink to operations and fusion with national sources. The program architecture leverages machine-to- machine communication to interleave commercial and national Signals intelligence (SIGINT) and Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) with timelines to support sensor tipping and cueing – The next biggest gains in Intelligence.


Low-Cost, Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) Millimeter-Wave Radar offers sensors based on commercial, automotive radar technology. Additionally, there are significant reductions in cost and improvements in performance of future autonomous systems.


Navy lacks end-to end-in house trackers and ability to rapidly compare available algorithmic components. The Tracker Component Library starts filling the gap with over 1,000 modular functions in Matlab with critical routines in C++.


This year Defense Entrepreneurs Forum is partnering with MD5 to stage its annual innovation competition, which will be focusing on early stage ventures (pre-Series A) who are working on solutions with both commercial and defense/security applications. Areas of interest include: 3D Printing, Aerospace, AI & Machine Learning, IoT and MedTech.

The demand for greater capabilities on Navy vessels has led to a proliferation of combat & weapons systems. Such system costs are known to be the 'single largest driver in shipbuilding, even if costs of the weapons themselves are excluded’. The proposed ultra-wideband phased array antennas offer significant cost savings by supporting multi-mission operation with innovative low-cost, high-performance builds.


Many sailors can identify problems. Only a few can claim credit for solving one. And, it is rare is to find a service member who has proven the ability to not only do it, but repeat the feat multiple times. SCPO Ronald B. Paddack is that sailor. As a seasoned veteran of 15 consecutive years in combat environments, SCPO Paddack is motivated in the need for greater operational impact on the battlefield. All of which provides him a unique perspective on the strengths and, more importantly, the gaps of America’s military capabilities.

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory is working with Tactical Reachback Extended Communications (TREC) which offers extended Line of Sight (LOS) communications with wide bandwidth support Anti-JamAJ waveforms and operations.

1000 Navy Pentagon
Washington, DC 20350

This is an official Department of the Navy website
Contact the Webmaster - Please read our Privacy Policy Notice - No FEAR Act - Section 508