The Innovation Proving Ground (IPG) will be an outdoor test and experimentation facility capable of rigorously assessing innovative technologies and prototypes in an operational, real-world setting – it will be a proving ground for proving grounds on The Texas A&M University System’s RELLIS Campus. With $50 million funded by the Texas Legislature to assist the Army Futures Command, the IPG will be a key component of the George H.W. Bush Combat Development Complex (BCDC).
The IPG will create a unique testing ecosystem that will enable a variety of customizable tests, evaluations and research efforts to help develop and evaluate the newest advances in technology. The IPG is being constructed to be agile and adaptable to support a broad range of tests in fields such as artificial intelligence and information, and wireless network technologies.
Key Attributes of the IPG
- Provides an environment that facilitates evaluations across multiple domains – land, air, cyber – in 3D space – air, ground, subterranean
- Provides fully instrumented facilities and systems to optimize data opportunities and enable analytics, especially real-time streaming analytics
- Provides the ability to evaluate systems in an operationally relevant environment – early and often – involving stakeholders
- Provides testing and evaluation as a service to a broad customer base from all military services, federal agencies, industry and other academic institutions
- Provides customizable support capabilities for a full range of events, including: tests and evaluations; sponsored technology demonstrations; innovation, integration, evaluation events (I2E2); hosted agile learning events; basic and applied research efforts; and more
IPG Capabilities Overview
The IPG test areas will encompass more than 350 acres of land and include:
Test Areas: One of the key attributes of the IPG will be the ability to move technologies from the laboratory to a realistic environment for testing in various conditions – undesirable weather, limited visibility, complex terrain, cyber environments, etc.
The Mobility Challenge Course (MCC): A 1-mile long test track consisting of a mix of surface types, obstacles, slopes and gradients to facilitate assessments of maneuverability, durability, performance and decision-making aspects of autonomy.
The Off-Road Test Area (ORTA): A network of unimproved roads and trails combined with open-maneuver terrain, a tailorable soil lane and a water fording area. This test area will allow for full operational realism and complex integration of air and ground systems supporting assessments of a vehicle’s ability to effectively operate in a cross-country environment and vehicles’ abilities to coordinate and collaborate to accomplish tasks.
The Subterranean Test Area (STA): An underground facility supporting the testing of navigational capabilities and sensor effectiveness in an area where communications are limited and autonomy can be stressed. The facility will consist of a complex, reconfigurable tunnel system with varying angles, gradients, dimensions, ingress and egress routes, floodable chambers and other obstacles.
Private Network: The IPG will integrate a full range communications architecture to provide a revolutionary network environment that is unmatched by test capabilities currently available to the Department of Defense (DoD), industry and academic research. The highlight of this network is a private 5G LTE capability that enables unique testing and evaluation capabilities, including but not limited to:
- The ability to stream video feeds and massive amounts of data from sensors and platforms with extremely low latency and high reliability
- The ability to be quickly reconfigured and tailored to unique testing requirements
- The ability to be used as a vector for cyber exploitation of platforms
- The ability to be exploited (attacks on the network and the core itself) and quickly restored
As research security is a top priority, the IPG teams have incorporated the appropriate security protocols and measures throughout the design and operation of the facilities.
Instrumentation: The IPG will be a fully instrumented facility outfitted with the latest on- and off-platform technologies to capture data and then optimize the network for streaming this information to the test teams. The IPG will be unrivaled in this effort, as all the test areas will be outfitted with cameras and sensors full time. Because of the network, it will not be tied to halts in activities to harvest data, but will instead have the data delivered in real-time to the analysts, vastly increasing efficiency.
Cybersecurity: The IPG will enable the conducting of comprehensive cyber resiliency efforts in an operational environment. By combining the private network with contemporary cybersecurity tools – offensive and defensive – the IPG will not only be able to support the exploitation and protection efforts of platforms, but also the actual exploitation and protection efforts of the network itself.
Modeling and Simulation: The IPG will fully utilize the power of gaming, modeling and simulated environments to gain efficiencies in testing. The entire IPG will be modeled, allowing for simulated iterative and repetitive scenario execution of high-risk events. Additionally, the IPG will have the ability to use M&S to expand the physical testing to a larger context through either a constructive simulation or through network architecture, which will permit participation in distributed tests.
Data Collection and Storage: The IPG will be unique in its capability to collect and store test data. Using wireless streaming as the primary method for collection will vastly decrease test cycles, ensure minimal intrusion into the realistic test scenarios and provide the ability to begin analysis during execution, accelerating the analysis and reduction activities and facilitating in-stride changes during the test. In relation to data storage, the IPG will have the ability to store large amounts of data to support a reach-back capability and, as authorized, sharing/collaboration.
Test Support: The IPG will have teams of experts in the areas of test planning and administration, instrumentation, modeling and simulation, data analytics and cybersecurity.
Each cell will be working for a test director and will be responsible for collaborating with customers in developing CONOP-based events tailored to requirements in order to get optimal results.
Additionally, to facilitate full collaboration and immediate support, users will be given space to set up operations in the IPG’s test headquarters, working shoulder-to-shoulder with the test teams during the preparation and execution of the event.
The IPG will provide users with an exceptional venue for testing and research. By combining state-of-the-art infrastructure, methods and techniques with teams of experts in supporting test and research activities, the IPG creates a unique, world-class ecosystem that optimizes outcomes for the test and research communities.