Ft. Polk JRTC Soldier Operational Experiment

If you were to ask any soldier about the importance of next generation combat technology, they would likely tell you that saving lives is the number one priority. This reasoning in and of itself is why Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) research and development is incredibly important to the overall vision of the U.S. Army and Army Futures Command. The ultimate focus of the Fort Polk Soldier Operational Experiment (SOE) is centered around efforts in adding unmanned and manned robots to soldier combat formations. RCV’s were also pushed to their limits to forecast any potential issues that could arise when using unmanned systems during combat scenarios.

Event Name

Project ORIGIN, Ft. Polk JRTC Soldier Operational Experiment


Fort Polk Joint Readiness Training Center at Vernon Parish, Louisiana


Photography, Videography

Event Overview

The Ft. Polk Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) located in Fort Polk, Louisiana became the testing site of two Project ORIGIN Vehicles (RCV Surrogates) engaging in a simulated battle with the 3/101st (Air Assault). Soldiers from the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry helped provide feedback and further explore the ability of the Army to conduct rapid technology and autonomous behavior integration. This event enabled the Army to gain valuable insight in how to best utilize robotic vehicles in combat and furthered its ongoing Campaign of Learning around RCV development.

Key teams in this event were groups such as the Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC), the Army’s Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross Functional (NGCV CFT), and the Army Capability Manager-Infantry Brigade Combat teams (ACM-I).These groups came together to integrate the Project ORIGIN platforms into the JRTC rotation.

Todd Willert, Project Origin project manager at GVSC, shares the importance of these groups collaborating on this exercise. Willert states the team

“…use(s) this information to rapidly iterate both its software and physical payloads, and evaluate the changes in relevant tactical environments…”

The new system ultimately allows soldiers to close in on and eliminate enemies safely from a distance. Some of the incorporated testing methods, maneuvers, and personal included:

  • Blocking a key intersection for 36 hours
    • Benefitting from Origin’s low heat signature while conducting long hours of battery-powered “silent watch”
  • Denied helicopter landing zones and conducted route reconnaissance
    • Utilizing low personal needs to complete missions with robotics in order to maximize efficiency and improve safety of the soldiers
  • Tropical storm like conditions

VIDS Corp Involvement:

VIDS Corp’s process for this event began as we begin all of our events – by asking questions. consulting with project managers, engineers, support staff, etc. takes first priority for VIDS Corp when arriving to a new event site. Understanding where can and cannot be occupied by personnel, what can and cannot be filmed, and what the focus of the event is are all taken into consideration during this process.

In the instance of this event, VIDS Corp access was again, minimally restricted. VIDS Corp was able to fully submerge themselves with both the operations teams and military units to ensure best in class content capturing. Weather constraints did present some issues for the VIDS Corp team, but thanks to years of industry knowledge (and some MacGyver style camera tricks), they were able to continue capturing content in even the most severe parts of the storm.

VIDS Corp utilized a series of industry leading equipment during the Ft. Polk SOE. BlackMagic Pocket Cinema 6k, BlackMagic URSA Mini, Deity Wireless Microphone, Thermal and night vision cameras, multi-axis gimbals, and other equipment was utilized in order to seamlessly pass between in-field activities and stationary interview settings. This led to a wide variety of camera angles and unique approaches to content coverage for the Project ORIGIN program.

Event Conclusion:

The Ft. Polk SOE is unique from previous Project ORIGIN events as soldiers were given the opportunity to accompany platforms for longer periods of time in various environmental situations. Prolonged rain, terrain changes, and radio frequency detection from the 3/101st Group opposition force really put these RCV platforms and soldiers to the test.

VIDS Corp offers a perspective to coverage that is only amplified by unique capture opportunities. Given that VIDS Corp has had access to the entire lifecycle of the Project ORIGIN platform, finally seeing force-on-force action allows the content to be captured with long term vision in mind. Thinking back to previous exercises and how footage was captured in the past makes it easier to look forward to new angles or visions VIDS Corp can achieve.

VIDS Corp completed two different video content deliverables: a long form, explanatory video focused around soldier involvement and their feedback, and a short form, promotional video focused around the Project ORIGIN platform and its capabilities that were highlighted at the event.