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Strengthening Teamwork for Robust Operations in Novel Groups (STRONG)

Monday, November 26, 2018

Strengthening Teamwork for Robust Operations in Novel Groups (STRONG)

Solicitation Number: W911NF-19-S-0001

Agency: Department of the Army
Office: Army Contracting Command
Location: ACC - APG (W911NF) RTP

 

https://www.fbo.gov/index.php?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=a33549b6039752990aaf6f50777f1379&_cview=1

Key Dates

The following is a summary of the events and dates associated with the STRONG Funding Opportunity:

  • Opportunity released October 2018
  • Opportunities Webinar 15 November 2018  (Opportunity Webinar: ARL will host an opportunity webinar on 15 November 2018. A link to the

webinar will be posted on the STRONG Program website at https://www.arl.army.mil/strong.)

  • Deadline for Questions on Funding Opportunity 30 November 2018
  • Proposals due for Cycle 1* 21 December 2018
  • Cycle 1 Awards* Feb2019 (Expected)

*The Key dates above delineate the timeline for proposal receipt and award related to Cycle 1

under this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA).

Overview:

The future vision for the U.S. Army includes teams of humans and intelligent agents working together to accomplish missions.  The U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has established this new collaborative program, Strengthening Teamwork for Robust Operations in Novel Groups (STRONG), with the goal of developing the foundation for enhanced teamwork within heterogeneous human-intelligent agent teams.  This collaborative venture will bring together diverse, multidisciplinary expertise to support scientific breakthroughs relevant to specific and critical scientific questions that must be addressed to enable this future vision

STRONG focuses directly on coordination and cooperation in human-agent teams via individualized and adaptive technologies.  It has a specific long-term goal to identify and implement the fundamental research necessary to develop individualized, adaptive technologies that promote effective teamwork in novel groups of humans and intelligent agents.  This effort addresses the teamwork (states and processes) that is critical to the future vision of human-agent teaming in the military.  Decostanza et al. (IEEE, 2018; https://brain.ieee.org/brain-storm/enhancing-human-agent-teaming/) provide a detailed vision and discussion of some of the scientific questions critical to achieving this goal.  Importantly, this interactive paper also provides a public forum for commentary and feedback from the scientific community at large and will serve as a valuable resource for understanding the research objectives of this program.

STRONG addresses a critical objective within a broader Army goal to enable effective integration of Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning (AI/ML) in the battlefield.  This program has been developed in coordination with other related ARL-funded collaborative efforts (see descriptions of ARL collaborative alliances at https://www.arl.army.mil/www/default.cfm?page=93) and shares a common vision of highly collaborative academia-industry-government partnerships; however, it will be executed with a program model different than previous ARL Collaborative Research/Technology Alliances.  Specific components of the program are highlighted below: 

•·         STRONG will be executed through a series of eight annual program cycles (i.e., Cycles 1-8).  The FOA will be amended annually to identify a specific problem statement, or topic, for that specific Cycle.  The topic for each Cycle will be chosen to systematically converge on the specific long-term program goal.

o   Eight new topics (Cycles 1-8) are expected from FY19-FY26, with each topic focused on addressing a different scientific area within the scope of the broad research aims of STRONG.  These topics will be carefully chosen based on both program achievements from the previous year and on scientific and technological advancements by the broader research community.

o   For each topic, funding will be provided to those Recipients selected for 1 year under a cooperative agreement (CA) described as the "seedling" project.

o   The Recipients of a "seedling" CA are then eligible to receive funding for a single optional extension of up to 3 years at the conclusion of the "seedling" project.  The period of the performance of the option will be based on the research and available funding.  It is envisioned that "seedling" Recipients will work with government researchers and/or other "seedling" Recipients to collaboratively develop a proposal for an optional extension to the initial seedling CAs.  Opportunities for planning and enabling these collaborations in support of an option will be provided at the annual Summer Innovation Summits (see below), as well as via regular communication between "seedling" Recipients and government researchers.

•·         Recipient participation in a yearly Summer Innovation Summit at one of the Center for Agent Soldier Teaming (CAST) Innovation Hubs will be REQUIRED.

•·         Proposals from junior investigators (e.g., students, research fellows, and early-career researchers with less than 5 years past reception of their PhD or less than 5 years' experience within the primary field of their organization) are appropriate under this opportunity. 

The success of this multidisciplinary effort will require meaningful collaborative partnerships between government, academia, and industry to advance the science of human-agent teaming.  The STRONG program incorporates new initiatives to grow and support an eco-system of high-quality, innovative researchers addressing scientific gaps critical to the Department of Defense.  At the beginning of each annual Summer Innovation Summit, Recipients will be expected to demonstrate their scientific principles and approach to the community, providing evidence of progress toward scientific breakthroughs that support the criticality of the particular concept or approach to the specific topic.  Over the course of each yearly Summer Innovation Summit, Recipients will be expected to coordinate their future research plans with complimentary ongoing or planned efforts executed by other Recipients and government researchers.  In other words, it is expected that the best methods or findings from individual "seedlings" will be leveraged to inform strategy and best practice approaches for subsequent future option proposals.  Following each annual Summit, 1-3 collaborative proposals will be selected for up to three additional years of effort being funded for each selected Recipient (with more details on the option process to be provided during "seedling" year).