DB: Where are you?
DW: At the Detroit Arsenal in Warren, which is part of the U.S. Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM). We have 7,500 people who work here, and we’re very closely aligned with the auto industry.
DB: How’s it going so far?
DW: I took over in June, and there’s an amazing amount of great work going on here. Part of our mission is that we’re responsible for all of the moving equipment in the U.S. Army, including tanks, trucks, and a fleet of water-landing craft. We represent the acquisition and sustainment of equipment, as well as engineering, design, safety, and review. We also have the new Army Future Command, which has co-functional teams that provide a rapid acquisition program for new equipment and next-generation combat vehicles.
DB: What will those nextgen vehicles entail?
DW: We have autonomous capabilities, and we’re testing those systems right now. We’re developing capabilities for leader-follower situations with tactical trucks. The first or second vehicle (in a convoy) may be autonomous, and going forward the technology will help us reduce the total number of manned vehicles, especially in sustained conveys. In the future we might have 90 trucks, and only a third of the people we would normally need would be in them.
DB: What other technology is coming?
DW: We have optionally manned vehicles under development right now, and we’re sharing our results with the (auto) industry. Eventually we’ll have a competition to replace our (current) vehicles. We also have a lot of exciting work going on in additive manufacturing, where we’re developing innovative ways to build repair parts (out in the field) using polymers, titanium, and aluminum. Plus, we’re developing predictive maintenance programs.