Lab Spotlight

A Glimpse Into NSWC Carderock Division’s Disruptive Technologies Laboratory

a glimpse into nswc carderock divisions disruptive technologies laboratory

The mission of Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Carderock Division is to equip the U.S. Navy fleet with the latest capabilities and technologies needed to tackle the numerous obstacles it faces every day in the field. Through naval laboratory technologies, the Department of Defense (DOD) is better able to meet combat threats and ever-changing operational demands that warfighters are confronted with at a rapid rate.

To support its parent agency mission, NSWC Carderock created a Disruptive Technologies Laboratory (DTL), with the goal of generating ideas and solutions for researching and developing innovative technologies to get into the hands of the fleet.

Formed several years ago and originally called the “Intelligent Mobile Machines Office,” DTL came about when a group of Carderock employees was tasked with examining the role of robotics in ship systems. The applications developed at DTL—such as the “exoskeleton” technology, a human augmentation system that is now commercially available—have lightened the laborious manual load that is typically involved in maintaining a ship hull. From its inception, DTL has focused on letting innovation drive new technological ideas from concept to reality—and forward into the fleet.

“Innovation isn’t happenstance when you create the right environment. With persistent contact with new knowledge, it becomes predictable that you’ll have innovative events,” stated Garry Shields, DTL Director. “That’s what the Disruptive Technology Lab is doing—creating a sustainable innovation engine.”

Aside from its successful exoskeleton project, DTL has several other technology transfer (T2) successes that went from helping the warfighter to being introduced in the marketplace. Examples include an optical periscope detection and discrimination capability technology that complements radar techniques, and the unmanned vehicles (UXV), digital manufacturing (DM) Massive Multiplayer Online War-Game Leveraging the Internet (MMOWGLI), a collaborative virtual environment that allows teams to use crowd-sourcing to discuss technologies for further development.

When not busy revving its innovative engine, the DTL hosts weekly roundtable meetings at which speakers spark technology discussions that include industry, academia, and government experts. DTL also utilizes milSuite, an online networking tool that functions similar to Facebook and Wikipedia, to foster collaborative efforts with other NSWC divisions and Navy laboratories.

“Through roundtable discussions and weekly presentations, the DTL exposes its members to new ideas, technologies, processes, and methods of solving known and unknown technical problems,” said Harry Whittaker, a roundtable participant. “Carderock employees participating in the DTL are enabled to take back what they've learned to their technical codes.”

To learn more about NSWC Carderock Division’s DTL, visit

The original NSWC Carderock Division of Public Affairs article is featured here.

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