Ft. Benning Soldier Operational Experiment
2020 was a notable year for the VIDS Corp team, as it was the first real opportunity to work closely with Project Origin. This technology demonstrator program from the Ground Vehicle System Center (GVSC) was put to the test in Fort Banning, Georgia while VIDS Corp had the chance to witness and capture how programs are directly driven by soldier feedback. Here, we portrayed a glimpse of what the future of our warfighters might one day look like.
Project ORIGIN, Ft. Benning Soldier Operational Experiment
Fort Benning Soldier Operational Experiment at Columbus, GA
Photography, Videography, Night Vision and UAS Operations
Ft. Benning, one of the U.S. Army’s premier training centers, supported both the Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) and Small Mission Equipment Transport (SMET) programs from Ground Vehicle System Center (GVSC) in the Fall of 2020. During the Fort Benning Soldier Operational Experiment (SOE), Project ORIGIN was tested in various combat scenarios alongside soldiers from A Company, 1-28th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division. These soldiers were tasked with providing feedback to US Army engineers and technicians who utilized the information to develop further mission-set capabilities.
Alongside soldiers and the Project ORIGIN team, the Ground Vehicle System Center (GVSC) and Army Capabilities Manager-Infantry (ACM-I) teams assisted with the multi-week experiment to determine the potential value an RCV platform can provide to soldiers in combat scenarios. Todd Willert, Program Manager of Project ORIGIN, was a key point of contact throughout the entire event. Willert shared his perspective with VIDS Corp in an interview, stating:
“Origin is a sensor platform. It’s a telepresence. It’s not a soldier, it’s not as good as a soldier, never will be as good as a soldier, but it gives the soldier the added ability to read the train and detect threats…”
Playing into the theme of threat detection, soldiers tested each of these ORIGIN subsystems during the Ft. Benning SOE:
- Unmanned Aerial System (UAS)
- Modular Smoke Obscuration Module (SOM)
- Commonly Remote Operated Weapon Systems (CROWs)
- Equipped with M240 Machine Gun and FGM-148 Javelin
- Counter-UAS Jammer
- Autonomous drive functions integrated with the Warfighter Machine Interface (WMI)
- Robotic Technology Kernel (RTK)
Alongside testing subsystems and various different environmental testing conditions, the Project ORIGIN platform was being put in the hands of the individuals whom the US Army needs feedback from the most – our warfighters.
VIDS Corp Involvement:
VIDS Corp’s process for this event began as we began all of our events – by asking questions. consulting with project managers, engineers, support staff, etc., takes first priority for VIDS Corp when arriving at a new event site. Understanding where we can and cannot be occupied by personnel, what can and cannot be filmed, and what the event’s focus is are all taken into consideration during this process.
Once all of the established parameters have been met, VIDS Corp focused on maintaining a low-level presence during day-to-day operations to best capture the assigned mission sets. As an integrated part of the mission, VIDS Corp was given minimally restricted access to all aspects of the operation, including in-field operations, after-action reports, and briefs on an as-needed basis.
VIDS Corp utilized Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4k, Diety Wireless Microphone, Thermal and night vision cameras, multi-axis gimbals, and other industry-leading setups in order to pass between in-field activities and stationary interview settings seamlessly. This led to various camera angles and unique approaches to coverage that hadn’t been seen before from a GVSC program event.
Being fully immersed within the unit allowed VIDS Corp to successfully capture all mission sets, scenarios, and situational environments through photo and video highlights to show the real-world utilization of the Project ORIGIN MUTT (Multi-Utility Tactical Transport) robotic platform. VIDS Corp embedded itself throughout the course of the SOE with BlueFor and OpFor soldiers for several missions, giving wildly unique perspectives that had not been captured before VIDS Corp’s involvement.
VIDS Corp completed a video deliverable, as well as multiple photos, to emphasize how successful and necessary this program is for the future of the RCV program and the way soldiers make contact on the battlefield moving forward. Being able to shine a light on Project ORIGIN being a continuously low-cost, high-reward program is crucial to the future of not only the program but of our warfighters and their fielded equipment.