Technical Digest

Tech Digest Vol.37 Num.2 Cover

APL Research and Development
Volume 37, Number 2 (2024)

Research and development issues highlight APL's diverse contributions to critical national challenges. This issue begins with a brief description of the Human–Machine Interfaces for Human–Machine Teaming (H4H) architecture, which simplifies the complex integration of hardware and software components in human–machine teaming systems. The second article details a threat scenario characterization and enumeration approach to inform mitigation strategy decisions and facilitate cybersecurity and resilience engineering. The remainder of the issue commemorates APL’s 80th anniversary. The first article in this section discusses APL’s adoption of a systems approach to become a truly strategy-driven organization. This is followed by a reflection on a 1983 report predicting what APL would look like in the twenty-first century. Complementing this retrospective is an article summarizing predictions on the technology trends APL might encounter or influence by its centennial in 2042. Next is a brief description of APL’s newest defining innovations. The final article in this special series summarizes the APL Achievement Awards for accomplishments during 2022, the Laboratory’s 80th anniversary year.

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H4H: An Open Framework for Rapid Human–Machine Teaming Prototype Integration

Edgar F. Martinez, Rebecca M. Crockett, and Ian A. Grissom

Effective human–machine teaming systems are becoming critical to the success of the modern warfighter. However, these systems are traditionally costly to develop because of the complex integration of hardware and software components from disparate organizations and vendors. In response to this challenge, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) researchers developed the Human–Machine Interfaces for Human–Machine Teaming (H4H) architecture, a platform that simplifies this complex integration. By modularizing components and simplifying interfaces, H4H aims to reduce the overall cost to establish an initial prototype of a system while enabling reuse of the system’s components.

A Multidimensional Cyber Threat Scenario Enumeration Model for Resilience Engineering

Anurag Dwivedi

Many frameworks have been proposed for analyzing and enhancing the cyber resilience of systems and missions. Most focus on conducting risk or gap analyses before suggesting mitigations. To apply those frameworks, it is essential to gain knowledge about the threat scenarios against which the risk or resilience is being evaluated. Common approaches to threat enumeration include leveraging threat intelligence or identifying sequential actions from threat models that are mainly developed from databases of past threat events. Such approaches either lack comprehensiveness or are too granular to produce a manageable scale of threat action combinatorics when identifying potential cyber threat scenarios for engineering a resilient mission or system. This article suggests a threat scenario characterization and enumeration approach that does not rely on intelligence or past threat databases and allows for tailored abstraction of threat scenarios to inform mitigation strategy decisions and facilitate cybersecurity and resilience engineering.


Preface: APL 80th Anniversary Commemorative Articles

Jerry A. Krill

March 10, 2023, marked the end of APL’s yearlong 80th anniversary celebration. In honor of the occasion, the Johns Hopkins APL Technical Digest dedicates the following section of this issue to articles commemorating the anniversary.

APL’s Systems Approach to Becoming a Strategy-Driven Organization

Ronald R. Luman, Timothy J. Galpin, and Jerry A. Krill

The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) developed an integrated systems approach to strategy beginning in 2011. The approach has resulted in a vision and strategy framework that is built for the long term and has proven itself in execution during a turbulent decade marked by changing national security priorities, economic uncertainty, and transformative technological advances in areas such as artificial intelligence, hypersonics, and cyber. This article describes how articulating a bold vision and strategy, coupled with an innovative and lasting implementation plan, enabled APL to achieve a new level of national impact by becoming truly and overtly strategy driven. It did so by introducing, in stages, a system composed of six strategic planning methods that are often implemented separately or partially: a classic vision framework; a one-page strategy articulation adapted from industry; a continuous decision-making process; a strict alignment of resources to strategic priorities; regular accountability reviews; and a genuine engagement of the entire staff in fostering innovation aligned with the vision and strategy. The narrative includes expository descriptions of each system element and hard-won lessons learned during implementation. This can give the practitioner confidence that vision and strategy need not end up sitting on the shelf, but rather can be successfully applied to drive the organization forward through turbulent times.

“APL in the Twenty-First Century”: A Retrospective on the 1983 Report to the Director

Harry K. Charles Jr.

In 1983, at the behest of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) director, an accomplished group called the APL senior fellows produced a report on the projected state of the Laboratory at the beginning of the 21st century. This article presents a retrospective on that report, which Identified key technologies, relationships, and environmental factors that would be important to APL at the dawn of the 21st century and beyond. In this article, these key items are identified, discussed, and assessed for their relevance (or not) to the current state of the Laboratory.

Technology Visions for APL’s Centennial

Akinwale A. Akinpelu, David W. Blodgett, Glenn E. Mitzel, Morgana M. Trexler, Kaushik A. Iyer, William G. Bath, Lynn M. Reggia, David B. Helmer, Ashutosh Dutta, Nancy F. Andersen, and Jerry A. Krill

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) will celebrate its centennial in 2042, about 20 years from the time of this writing. As the Lab looks toward this milestone, a team comprising APL staff members who are fellows of several premier technical societies or APL master inventors predicted which innovations and technologies might become global trends by 2042 and, consequently, could be considered as potential elements in APL’s science and technology strategy. This article describes their predictions.

APL Identifies Two New Defining Innovations

APL Staff Writers

Among APL’s thousands of critical contributions to national security and space exploration are a number of defining innovations: game-changing breakthroughs in technology that have created inflection points in history. These revolutionary advances have ignited new engineering accomplishments globally, saved lives, and secured the United States against threats at home and abroad. On the occasion of its 80th anniversary, APL named two new defining innovations, its 10th and 11th: Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) from the Sea and Planetary Defense.

APL Achievement Awards and Prizes: The Lab’s Top Inventions, Discoveries, and Accomplishments in 2022

APL Staff Writers

For 80 years, APL’s dedicated staff members have made thousands of critical contributions to critical challenges in trusted service to the nation. They have delivered game-changing solutions in diverse areas—undersea warfare, space exploration, missile defense, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and autonomy, biology and bionengineering, and the environment to name just a few. The incredible dedication and achievements of the Lab’s staff are enabled by outstanding enterprise services; a deep-rooted culture of innovation; a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; and an emphasis on the mission. Every year the Lab honors these accomplishments with an awards program. This article details the awards presented for achievements during 2022, APL’s 80th year.