Encouraged by the advantages of collaboration, the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) worked with the Secretary of the Army to charter the National Automotive Center (NAC) in June 1993.
The NAC is the connection point for U.S. Army and Marine Corps ground vehicle technology, serving as the Army focal point for the development of dual-use automotive technologies and their applications to military ground vehicles. The NAC acts as the principal and primary point of contact, linking TARDEC with the automotive industry, other government agencies and academia to build relationships based on mutual technical interests to further this mission.
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The NAC is co-located with the U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC) at the Detroit Arsenal in Warren, MI, in the heart of the world’s automotive capital.
The NAC’s collaborative approach makes it possible to improve vehicle performance, safety, energy use and endurance, while also reducing the military’s design, manufacturing, operations and maintenance costs. The application of jointly developed, or “dual-use,” technology has similar impacts — safer cars and trucks, more advanced consumer technology and lower cost due to the broader commercial market base.
The Army can take advantage of the sophisticated equipment and highly skilled workforce developing automotive products and technologies that lead to dual-use partnerships with large companies, tier-one suppliers, universities, small businesses and technology innovators. Some examples of these partnerships follow.
ADVANCED VEHICLE POWER TECHNOLOGY ALLIANCE (AVPTA)
A partnership between the Department of Energy (DoE) and Department of the Army (DA), the AVPTA is a joint technology research initiative for ground vehicle power and energy technology research, development and transition. The AVPTA mission is to leverage resources and research involving commercial automotive and defense ground vehicle manufacturers to transition technologies into both the commercial and military marketplaces and increase precompetitive research and development (R&D).
The NAC is crucial in establishing relationships between TARDEC and industry to leverage new developments from both partners in the areas of hybrid-electric vehicles, advanced batteries, alternative fuels and microgrid technology. Many of these advances will be validated through collaborative efforts in TARDEC’s new Ground Systems Power and Energy Laboratory (GSPEL).
THE HYBRID TRUCK USERS FORUM (HTUF)
Operated under collaborative partnerships between the NAC and non-profit clean transportation agency CALSTART, HTUF continues to work with truck manufacturers to speed the commercialization of fuel-efficient hybrid technology into medium- and heavy-duty work trucks. CALSTART and the NAC collaborate on the annual HTUF conference, a key event for bringing users and manufacturers together to exchange ideas and partner on new vehicle solutions. Once proven, the technology can be integrated into the military’s non-tactical vehicle fleet on bases around the country.
The NAC leverages these partnerships to increase mobility, sustainability and safety while simultaneously meeting the Army’s goal to reduce the logistics footprint of forces on the move. The programs created through the NAC’s defense, commercial industry and academic partnerships offer the Army collaborative solutions for long-lasting vehicles that command high performance and improved fuel efficiency. These solutions satisfy consumers’ needs for safety and the Army’s need for 21st-century reliability and survivability.
TARDEC is eager to partner with industry and academia to harness new technologies for emerging systems, integrate new energy and propulsion initiatives, reduce operating and maintenance costs of fielded systems, and ensure that Soldiers have the best performing, most reliable and easiest to maintain ground vehicles in the world.
The NAC employs several key mechanisms to leverage investments in automotive technology R&D and initiate shared technology programs. These mechanisms include: collaborative automotive technology contracts, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program contracts, Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADA), Education Partnership Agreements, Patent License Agreements, Test Services Agreements and unsolicited proposals.
The NAC sponsors the University of Michigan-based Automotive Research Center, a U.S. Army Center of Excellence for ground vehicle modeling and simulation. The NAC also is committed to Automation Alley, a regional technology cluster that links academia, industry and government in developing and exchanging dual-use technologies. Two common partnership vehicles are SBIRs and CRADAs.
The SBIR Program’s goal is to tap into the innovation and creativity of small businesses to help meet TARDEC’s R&D objectives and develop technologies, products and software that can be commercialized through sales in the private or government sectors.
TARDEC scientists and engineers develop topics that address technology needs. Topics go through a rigorous review process, with a final selection board at Department of Defense (DoD) level. Topics are posted on DoD’s Web site: http://www.acq.osd.mil/osbp/sbir/.
For more information about the Army SBIR Program, go to http://www.armysbir.com or visit TARDEC's SBIR Program page.
CRADAs are established between federal laboratories and commercial, academic or nonprofit partners to facilitate technology transfer between the parties for mutual benefit. Under a CRADA, the partner may contribute resources such as personnel, services, property and funding to the effort. The government may contribute all of the above except funding.
The CRADA is easy to establish with a straight forward contract section and mutually drafted Statement of Work. Since no funds may flow from the government to the technology partner, competition issues are set aside. Once a CRADA is approved by both parties to the agreement, it can be put in place within 60 days.
The NAC exists to make connections. Many of the same technologies the Army is developing for military ground vehicles the automotive industry is developing for consumer vehicles. By leveraging each other’s expertise, these technologies, and many others, have dual uses and can be brought to fruition much sooner.
Learn more by visiting TARDEC's CRADA Program page.
Ground Vehicle Gateway
TARDEC is searching for products or applications to fill technology gaps and improve military ground vehicle systems. To help accelerate the infusion of commercially viable technology into military land warfare systems, the NAC offers the GVG as an online resource to evaluate new proposals, inventions and specific technology insertion activities, and help identify new technologies that meet DoD needs.
The GVG helps the NAC connect, collaborate and communicate with industry, academia and other government agencies. The GVG process is designed to evaluate R&D ideas, test service requests, commercial product solicitations and general inquiries in order to make the appropriate connections between TARDEC, the TACOM LCMC and DoD.
The Gateway forwards concepts and proposals directly to TARDEC engineers, and GVG administrators log, track and evaluate ideas, facilitating dialogue and relationships with industry, academia and other government organizations.
SUBMITTING TECHNOLOGY IDEAS
Visitors fill out a simple template to submit solicitations and can return to the site at any time to check submission status. Since the GVG debuted in the spring of 2009, TARDEC subject-matter experts have made connections with the defense and automotive industries, TACOM LCMC, DoE and other collaborative partners. Follow the steps below to make a connection.
FOUR EASY STEPS:
STEP 1 - go to: https://tardec.groundvehiclegateway.com
STEP 2 - Fill in the appropriate fields with submission title, submission information and any attachments.
STEP 3 - Provide contact information.
STEP 4 - Click on the submit button. TARDEC engineers will review all submissions.
Q: If I don’t have a patent how can I be sure my idea is protected?
A: All information submitted to TARDEC is treated as For Official Use Only and considered proprietary. The GVG portal is operated by an authorized TARDEC contractor. Only authorized personnel from the contractor and TARDEC have access to the GVG portal.
Q: Does the GVG process help get a patent?
A: No. Acquiring a patent for a product or process will require the submitter to pursue a conventional patent acquisition process.
Q: Once an idea is submitted, how long does it take to hear back from the U.S. Army?
A: Once a submission is received via the GVG, it is logged into the system and the review and consideration process begins. The goal is to respond to the submitter within 90 days. However, many factors influence the response time.
Q: Can submissions contain white papers, photos and/or attachments?
A: Yes. The GVG accepts a wide variety of attachment formats. Following submission, an automated message indicates whether an attachment has been accepted or not.