Hoeven Announces DOD Funding to UND for Augmented Reality Tech Research & Development

Senator Secured Funding through FY2020 Defense Appropriations Legislation, Advancing Competitive Research Opportunities for North Dakota

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded a contract for $5 million to the University of North Dakota (UND) and AM General to develop augmented reality (AR) systems for Army vehicles, which would provide soldiers with access to more and better battlefield data as a display on the windshield. As a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, Hoeven secured this funding in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 appropriations bill and has included an additional $5 million in the FY2021 funding legislation to further advance this research.

The project’s goal is to enable soldiers operating or riding in High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles, also known as Humvees, to view a broad range of battlefield data visually represented as an AR heads up display on the windshield. This involves determining the best methods for collecting available battlefield data, maintaining its security and displaying it in a manner that provides full battlefield situational awareness. 

“UND and AM General have now been awarded a $5 million contract through funding we secured through the Defense Appropriations Committee. This project will help develop new systems for providing important data to our soldiers in their vehicles on the battlefield. This is critical support for our servicemembers, providing them with better awareness to counter threats and succeed in their missions,” said Senator Hoeven. “At the same time, this is an important opportunity to continue building UND’s research expertise and is part of our efforts to secure additional investment in our state’s tech industry, ensuring this sector continues serving as the third wave in North Dakota’s economic growth.”

“Autonomy is one of UND’s Grand Challenges – one of the best ways for UND to help diversify North Dakota’s economy and enrich the quality of life,” said Mark Askelson, Executive Director of UND’s Research Institute for Autonomous Systems. “We’re proud to have pioneered the development of autonomous technology in aircraft, and we’re thrilled to now be doing the same in ground vehicles. At the same time, what really excites me about this work is us bringing our skill set to bear on problems are facing the Department of Defense. We can solve these very real problems that are affecting people in the field and help the operators execute their missions with greater safety and more efficiency. UND is grateful to Senator Hoeven for helping to make the opportunity available. It’s safe to say that if not for his leadership, UND would not be working on this project right now.”

This award is part of the senator’s broader efforts to provide competitive research opportunities for North Dakota universities and businesses. To this end, Hoeven is advancing the following priorities for FY2021, in addition to the augmented reality research: 

  • $20 million for advanced coatings research.
  • $17 million for the DoD Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCOR) program, of which UND and NDSU are a part.
  • $10 million for Navy research into UAS payloads and performance.
  • $7 million for developing advanced power and battery systems for spacecraft.
  • $2.5 million to support a new silicone solar cell research project at NDSU.