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The Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing, or ARM, Institute today announced that the continuation of its cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Manufacturing Technology Program. The $35.4 million agreement will continue the ARM Institute’s funding to support U.S. manufacturing through automation and workforce development through 2028.
“The ARM Institute would like to thank the Department of Defense and, in particular, our government program manager Dr. Greg Hudas for working diligently to secure our continued agreement,” said Ira Moskowitz, CEO of the ARM Institute, in a release. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Defense to strengthen U.S. manufacturing and respond to our nation’s greatest challenges.”
In 2017, Carnegie Mellon University won an award from the Department of Defense (DoD) to create a robotics-focused Manufacturing Innovation Institute (MII). The ARM Institute is a nonprofit organization with more than 400 members across industry, government, and academia. It is headquartered at the Mill 19 facility in Pittsburgh and supports a variety of projects to enhance U.S. competitiveness.
DoD funds innovation initiatives
Unlike countries such as Germany, Japan, and China, the U.S. doesn’t have a centralized industrial policy. However, the DoD has promoted U.S. manufacturing by funding robotics and workforce development programs.
The Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering oversees the Manufacturing Technology (ManTech) program. The ARM Institute is funded under Agreement Number W911NF-17-3-0004 and is part of the Manufacturing USA network.
The institute’s original agreement with the DoD provided funding through January 2023. After a review by Joint Defense Manufacturing Council (JDMC) in 2022, the DoD began working on the terms to extend the agreement.
“Over the past seven years, the ARM Institute-Department of Defense public-private partnership has made important progress in strengthening U.S. manufacturing through advanced robotics, related AI technologies, and workforce development,” stated Dr. Greg Hudas, Department of Defense program manager for the ARM Institute, “With the continuation agreement in place, this partnership will build on this progress and continue to push innovation to a higher level for the good of the warfighter and the nation.”
The renewed agreement also offers the Defense Department the option to renew the contract again for another five years after 2028, bringing the ARM Institute’s total possible investment to $70.4 million over 10 years.
ARM Institute picks manufacturing projects
The ARM Institute said its mission is “to make robotics, autonomy, and artificial intelligence more accessible to U.S. manufacturers large and small, train and empower the manufacturing workforce, strengthen our economy and global competitiveness, and elevate national security and resilience.”
The institute, which has a satellite office in St. Petersburg, Fla., noted that it has already funded more than 150 projects and built out robotics capabilities at its headquarters. It has also collaborated with DoD on “targeted directed” projects, built an internal team of nearly 40 experts, and created the RoboticsCareer.org national workforce resource.
For instance, the ARM Institute has funded a project to support a forward operating base with no access to conventional logistics, initiated a scholarship in Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood neighborhood, named “champions” promoting its mission, and endorsed training programs.
The ARM Institute said the new DoD agreement will support its operations and member services, provide funding for projects with its members, and support existing capabilities as well as new initiatives. A spokesperson told The Robot Report that the institute is also examining potential initiatives to advance artificial intelligence in manufacturing.
Editor’s note: At the 2024 Robotics Summit & Expo on May 1 and 2 in Boston, attendees can visit the ARM Institute at Booth 131 to learn more about its existing and upcoming initiatives.
In addition, Dr. Larry Sweet, former director of worldwide robotics development at Amazon Robotics and current director of engineering at the ARM Institute, will give a presentation. He will discuss “Delivering AI and Machine Learning-Enabled Robotics to the Manufacturing and Field-Service Operations” in Room 256 at 2:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday, May 1. Register now to attend.