National Defense University Sends Students to Boston to Study Local Robotics Ecosystem

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Earlier this month, the city of Boston welcomed students from the National Defense University’s Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy, who traveled to visit with and learn from members of the nationally renowned Boston Tech Ecosystem. 

The students, a mix of senior military officers and senior government civilians from both the Department of Defense (DoD) and other government agencies, are in a 10 month master’s program, which includes a deep dive into a particular industry.  The particular group focuses on Robotics and Autonomous Systems.

The group, led by US Navy Captain Rich Davis and US Air Force Colonel Jerry Traughber, arrived on April 2nd for a full week of meetings and demos from our robotics and automation companies. 

Local visits included:

  • Vecna Technologies
  • New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation Center
  • Endeavor Robotics
  • Locus Robotics
  • Amazon Robotics
  • CyPhy Works
  • Aptima

After spending a day at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on Cape Cape, they were treated to a dedicated analysis of cyber security initiatives. This included a visit to the Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security at the Northeastern University Burlington campus, where they received presentations from Rob Knake, Global Resilience Institute Senior Research Scientist and from Rich Graubart, Senior Principal Cybersecurity Scientist at MITRE. 

Over lunch, Matthew Kling, Senior Research Engineer, at Kostas Research Institute provided an overview of R&D for autonomation (AI/Machine Vision), swarms, UAS vulnerability/exploitation, counter-UAS (RF effects for jamming, spoofing, interference, EMP), detection/tracking, electronic warfare, and forensics. Then, Ben Baron, Senior Research Engineer, at Kostas Research Institute provided an overview of R&D for expeditionary cyber, vulnerability management, threat intelligence (Dark Web Intel), and IoT.  They received a tour of the facility, as well as, a tour of the new drone test area, which is currently under construction and will include both indoor and outdoor testing areas.

Later, the group participated in a fun, team-building exercise at the Ox-Response Challenge at the IBM X-Force Command in Cambridge, where they tested the skills in facing a cyber-attack.  

The final day for the students was spent in the Seaport, beginning first with a stop at MITRE’s office at MassChallenge. MITRE hosted several startup robotics companies in the Innovation Space including:

  • Riptide Autonomous Solutions
  • Hurdler Motors
  • Pison Technologies
  • Autonodyne

The group ended their time in Boston with lunch and with a visit to MassRobotics where they discussed innovation, shared workspaces, and collaboration, and also received a presentation from MassRobotics’ startup, Hydroswarm.

Overall, this well-organized trip offered a great overview of Boston’s leadership and strong tech diversity in the emerging industries of robotics and automation. The students, NDU staff, and local communities came away from the experience with new ideas for future military and industry collaboration ideas. It was an educational and fun experience for all, and we hope to welcome more NDU students to Boston in the future.