Senator Warner Announces $2.2 Million Federal Grant for JOUSTER Program

Senator Warner Announces $ 2.2 Million Federal Grant for JOUSTER Program

DANVILLE (PRWEB) March 29, 2004 –

United States Senator John Warner visited Southside today to announce a federal grant of $ 2.2 million for the Joint Unmanned Systems Testing, Experimentation, and Research (JOUSTER) program. JOUSTER is one of six research centers being developed by Virginia Tech at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR). The announcement was made at the Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in Halifax County and included comments by U.S. Congressman Virgil Goode and Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger.

Warner expressed excitement about the JOUSTER project and the IALR – Virginia Tech partnership. “Virginia Tech has played an important role in defense research over the years, and this grant for unmanned vehicle development will help Virginia Tech and Southside continue that strong tradition,” he said. The grant brings Virginia Tech research to Southside Virginia, the IALR, and VIR.

The $ 2.2 million will help fund three weeks of testing and experimentation in 2004, the development of a five acre test field, and research into the science of testing unmanned systems. Once developed, the JOUSTER program will serve both military and industrial clients. The grant also funds instrumentation for the JOUSTER center along with faculty and technical positions.     Â“JOUSTER is the manifestation of the economic foundation that the private and elected leadership in this area laid with the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research,” said Congressman Goode. “The partnership between the Institute, Virginia International Raceway, Virginia Tech and the Department of Defense fuels an engine that will create jobs and serve as a drawing card for other companies to locate in Southside Virginia.”

Charles W. Steger echoed Goode’s optimistic outlook for JOUSTER and the surrounding region. “The partnership between Virginia Tech and Southside provides the university with new opportunities for research and real-world collaborations, and we believe our cutting-edge research can help create a knowledge-based economy to spur economic revitalization throughout Southside.”

Following the 3 p.m. announcement, Department of Defense officials, in collaboration with Virginia Tech researchers, gave the visitors an exhibition of what future unmanned systems experimentation will entail. Two unmanned vehicles, one airborne and the other on land, engaged in exercises to identify a simulated mine field. Experimentation, research and testing on systems such as these will be conducted at JOUSTER. By working to perfect unmanned air and ground vehicles, lives of Americans will be saved by putting robots instead of soldiers in harm’s way.

“Robotic technology is an emerging economic powerhouse,” said Tim Franklin, executive director of the IALR. “This is a high priority for our military to save American lives. Scientific advances will migrate from military applications into commercial applications to create a burgeoning economic sector. Having the development of those technologies in Southside Virginia will permit that economic growth to take part in this region.”

“The JOUSTER facility at VIR will provide an unparalleled experimental proving ground for robotic vehicles. It will attract the latest military and commercial technology to Halifax County and to Southside, along with some of the brightest minds in the world,” noted Charles Reinholtz, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech and the technical lead for the JOUSTER site.

Cliff Hudson, coordinator of the DoD’s Joint Robotics Program (JRP), said “As the JOUSTER concept matures, it will give us in the DoD unmanned systems community an opportunity to complement existing DoD modeling and simulation experimentation facilities with a flexible, low-cost, quick-access alternative.”

Local students were also on hand to demonstrate the robots they created for use in FIRST robotics competitions and in FIRST Lego league tournaments. Such competitions help pave the way for today’s youth to gain entrance to careers in math and science. Virginia Tech students also demonstrated their unmanned ground vehicle that competed as a finalist in this month’s U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Grand Challenge.

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research was established is to develop and attract technology and talent critical to Southside Virginia’s economic transformation through strategic research, advanced learning and technology transfer, Institute Conference Center activities, IALR outreach programs, and technology infrastructure development. The IALR leverages the resources of Virginia Tech in partnership with Danville Community College, Averett University, and regional public and private organizations.

IALR is part of a comprehensive strategy for Southside Virginia supported by Outreach and International Affairs at Virginia Tech. The Institute has moved to its new location at 150 Slayton Avenue in Danville. The official ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place on June 12, 2004.

Additional information is available online at



Curtis W. Callaway


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