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NEWS | March 25, 2014

NRL's LASR Building Receives Design Award

By Julia Wyant

The design firm Wiley Wilson, of Lynchburg, Virginia has received the Grand Award from the American Council of Engineering Excellence Awards competition for the design of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory's (NRL's), Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research (LASR) building. The LASR building also won the council's Pinnacle Award, announced at the ACEC Virginia Gala on February 6th at the Jefferson Hotel, in Richmond, Virginia.

According to project manager from Wiley Wilson, Bob Bibee, Taken on the whole, this building has never been done before to our knowledge anywhere.

The projects this year were amazing, Nancy Israel, executive director of ACEC Virginia said in a news release. Wiley Wilson's unique Navy and Marine Corps training facility is a one-of-a-kind facility worldwide.

In attendance at the awards ceremony, were Mike Holland from Naval Facilities Command, and Dr. Richard Colton, Superintendent, of NRL's Chemistry Division. Colton noted, Felt like we were at the Academy Awards, everyone in their finest dress awaiting the announcement of the Pinnacle awardee...may I have the envelope please...and the winner is...Naval Research Laboratory, Laboratory for Autonomous System Research by Wiley Wilson, hurrah!

LASR, the 47,000-square-foot building, is a unique laboratory that provides specialized facilities to support highly innovative research in intelligent autonomy, sensor systems, power and energy systems, human-system interaction, networking and communications, and platforms. LASR supports a broad range of research related to autonomous systems, from basic to applied, and for integration across different disciplines. Some of its unique features include:
  • Prototyping High Bay, which can be used for small autonomous air and ground vehicles, and the people who work with them. This space contains the world's largest real-time motion capture volume, allowing scientists to get extremely accurate ground truth of the motion of vehicles and people, as well as allowing closed loop control of systems.
  • Littoral High Bay, which features a 45-foot by 25-foot by 5.5-foot deep pool with a wave generator capable of producing directional waves, and a slope that allows littoral environments to be recreated.
  • Desert High Bay, which contains a 40-foot by 14-foot area of sand 2.5-feet deep, and contains 18-foot-high rock walls that allow testing of robots and sensors in a desert-like environment.
  • Tropical High Bay, which is a 60-foot by 40-foot greenhouse that contains a re-creation of a southeast Asian rain forest.
  • Outdoor test range, which is a 1/3rd acre highland forest with a waterfall, stream and pond, and terrain of differing difficulty including large boulder structures and earthen berms.
  • Electrical and machine shops, which allow prototypes to be constructed. The facility includes several types of 3D prototyping machines allowing parts to be directly created from CAD drawings. LASR also has a dedicated sensor lab that includes large environmental and altitude chambers and an anechoic chamber, as well as a power and energy lab.

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