WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / OCTOBER 2015
lished manufacturing ecosystem here or elsewhere. So the fundamental
part of this is to establish that ecosystem here in the United States for flexi-
ble hybrid electronics.
There are four key areas that the institute will focus on initially. The
first is wearable health monitoring for lifestyle and fitness and medical
The basic concept is a wearable patch or a smart bandage that can pro-
vide information about vital signs, fatigue, hydration and it could also dis-
Soft robotics is another example. It is the idea of robotics designed for
interaction with people. The idea of soft robotics is based on [the use of]
soft materials and sensors. This could help the elderly and wounded war-
riors in recovery and do a better job [than] metal products.
A third application is what we call sensor monitoring, and this could be
for structures on areas such as aircraft. For aircraft, for the Air Force or the
Navy, they would like to be able to monitor the state of the structure of the
aircraft and to know when it needs maintenance. Instead of doing pre-
emptive maintenance, which we do now, the sensors we could embed in
the aircraft would alert them maintenance is needed.
The fourth technology is wearable technology. This could be all sorts of
things. For military applications, it could be wearable batteries for people
or battery communicating devices that would conform to the shape
of the body and would be much easier for the Soldier to carry.
The cooperative agreement will be
managed by the U.S. Air Force
Research Laboratory and receive $75
million in DoD funding over five
years, matched with more than $90
million from industry, academia and
local governments. In total, the institute will receive $171 million to
invest in strengthening U.S. manufacturing. The MMI will distribute
research & development funds via
competitively bid project calls.
Industry-generated technology road-maps will drive project calls, timelines and investments.
Benjamin Leever is the government chief technology officer at
the Air Force Research Laboratory
at Wright-Patterson Air Force