An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News & Media : News

    NRL News & Press Releases

NEWS | Jan. 9, 2023

Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary

By Daniel Parry, Corporate Communications, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

The Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research, or LASR, and personnel from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory celebrated the facility’s 10 years of service to NRL, December 5-6.
Signe Redfield, Ph.D., Director, Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research, kicked off the two day event opening with an in-depth presentation of the laboratory’s history, capabilities and future endeavors, followed by a series of ‘lightning talks’ highlighting autonomous systems research performed at NRL.
The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory broke ground for LASR, Building 271, April 8, 2010, and opened its doors to researchers March 16, 2012.
“Since then [LASR] has supported research across a huge number of domains and areas — perception, navigation and locomotion, autonomous behavior, human interaction, platform development, power sources and manipulation, across ground, cognitive, maritime, and aerial domains,” Redfield said. “When LASR was designed, it was at the cutting edge of integrated autonomous system experimentation and design. Even today, no other facility combines these environments.”
LASR is a 50,000 square foot facility that supports basic and applied research. The objective of this one-of-a-kind laboratory is to enable continued Navy and Department of Defense scientific leadership in autonomy and to provide opportunities in this complex, emerging area to identify advances in future defense technologies. The laboratory capitalizes on the broad multidisciplinary character of NRL, bringing together scientists and engineers with disparate training and backgrounds to attack common goals in autonomous systems at the intersection of their respective fields.
“Every area was carefully designed to provide varying degrees of complexity, to be reconfigurable and support the widest variety of experimentation,” Redfield said. “The outdoor woodland, for example, included a water feature, a rock canyon, and a variety of topographical features and foliage types.”
Some of the unique features of LASR 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.
  • Electrical and machine shops, which allow prototypes to be constructed. In addition to metal and woodworking tools, the facility includes a 3D prototyping machine 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 for battery development and testing.
  • Outdoor test range, which is a 1/3rd acre highland forest with a waterfall, stream and pond, and terrain of varying difficulty including large boulder structures and earthen berms.
“Our biggest plans are for the outdoor woodland environment,” Redfield added. “Over the last five years, this space has been allowed to lie fallow, and trees and underbrush have grown up. New technology, developed for the agricultural community, gives us the opportunity to develop an unprecedented test environment.”
Redfield presented a vision for the future of LASR that includes a clear and coherent framework within which to structure NRL’s autonomous systems research, working towards an applied science of autonomy, a level of understanding that enables the development and deployment of robust, reliable, and effective autonomous systems.
“To reach that goal, we need to combine research into autonomous systems themselves — their components, their integration, and their context — with research into test and evaluation of those systems — the methods, metrics, and processes by which we determine their robustness, their reliability, and their effectiveness.”
Research into how to test and evaluate these systems will provide the foundational scientific understanding and rigorous systems engineering necessary to support the development of improved systems at LASR for another decade and many years beyond.
About the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
NRL is a scientific and engineering command dedicated to research that drives innovative advances for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps from the seafloor to space and in the information domain. NRL is located in Washington, D.C. with major field sites in Stennis Space Center, Mississippi; Key West, Florida; Monterey, California, and employs approximately 3,000 civilian scientists, engineers and support personnel.
For more information, contact NRL Corporate Communications at (202) 480-3746 or

News Search