2019 Government Innovation Awards
AI, analytics drive Army's predictive maintenance
Groundbreaking technological developments take vision, faith and just the right amount of patience. Bringing artificial intelligence-driven predictive maintenance capabilities to the Army’s aging Bradley Fighting Vehicle fleet took all of that, and much of it came from Lt. Col. Matthew Johnson.
Johnson, project management officer for Bradley vehicles, took the leap after a technical snag caused a team to lose 90% of its data.
“He could have stopped the funding and everything after that episode of bad engineering, but he believed in the program, and we kept going,” said Russ Goodrich, vice president of government operations at Uptake. The Defense Innovation Unit chose the company to assist the Army in the effort.
Two weeks after launch, the team used the AI-driven technology to successfully predicted failure on a major Bradley subsystem, avoiding downtime and improving soldier safety. The group continued to have wins, predicting other vehicle failures, monitoring weapons training operations and collecting valuable data along the way.
The Bradley must shoot and move while collecting fault data, Goodrich said, “so the more it moves, the more it breaks [and] the more we can fine-tune our algorithms.”
The analytics effort, which ended its first phase in September, is one of the Army’s first forays into predictive maintenance and is expected to lay the foundation for other vehicle platforms. It’s a living example of what Defense Department leaders often say they want: fail fast to develop capabilities faster.
“All these lessons learned will be incorporated into other assets,” Goodrich said.
Note: This article was updated on Nov. 1 to better describe the system's first failure prediction.
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