With the ability to draw on experts within and across disciplines, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) has made significant contributions for decades to Canada's defence and military in the air, on land and at sea.
In tune with government's priorities, policies and direction, the NRC consistently develops new technologies while adapting to ever-changing demands of Canada's defence and security. Currently, these technologies vary from advanced data analytics, 3D simulation, additive manufacturing, advanced and smart materials and lighting, virtual and augmented reality, unmanned systems, remote sensing, which are all essential to improve the effectiveness of armoured systems, people, platforms and systems of air vehicles, ground fleet and submarines.
Here is a brief look back at some of the NRC's achievements and how our experts helped improve Canada's military position from the Second World War until today. Click on the link for each success story to learn more:
The Department of National Defence enlisted the NRC's assistance to find a way to minimize negative effects of aircraft seats vibration on pilots and crew members. Along with defence engineers, the NRC developed a high-quality and cost-effective solution; a seat cushion integrating traditional foam with a novel energy-absorbing material. Tests were successfully conducted with the NRC's Bell-412 helicopter and a fleet of Canadian Armed Forces helicopters is set to adopt the design.
Together, the NRC and Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) worked to develop a robust unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for security and defence, search and rescue and for the surveying and mapping of remote areas. The NRC's strengths in aerospace engineering and mathematical modelling helped improve the unmanned aerial vehicle capabilities and enhance their technology to self-pilot, to control various aspects of their operations and to communicate with others in a fleet.
With the NRC's unique improvements to night vision goggles, night-time emergencies and search and rescue flights have become less risky for the Canadian Forces and rescue pilots. By combining technical and psychological expertise, researchers use helmet-mounted lenses and visors to improve the way critical information is displayed to pilots in the dark and in poor weather conditions.
In 2003, the NRC's virtual environment technologies helped the Canadian operations of General Motors Defense win a $6-billion contract to build the Stryker LAV weapons system for the US army. Canada's work and technologies resulted in an up to 83 percent reduction in total project time and achieved substantial cost savings while leading to the rise of more contracts, jobs opening and benefits to Canadian suppliers.
To modernize submarines purchased by Canada in 1998, the Department of National Defence (DND) turned to the NRC Marine Vehicles program and other partners, Defence Research and Defence Canada (DRDC) Atlantic and Montréal's supplier L-3 MAPPS, for help to design, build and test a new autopilot system. The NRC's modelling facility proved an ideal testing ground for the upgraded autopilot system as it allowed DND to see the trial software in action, auto maneuver the model and assess the system.
When security issues due to hijacking emerged as a real threat in the 1980s, the RCMP approached the NRC for help to develop a technology that could detect explosives. The NRC came up with the advanced portable Explosives Vapour Detector or EVD-1, a portable device that could "sniff" vapours using gas chromatography, which airports quickly began adopting.
In 1960, a unique technology developed by NRC Aerospace gave helicopter pilots far better control, especially in conditions that could put their life at risk. This technology was developed for rotary-wing aircraft in which an electronic interface replaces manual controls, hence the name "fly-by-wire." Available since 1970, fly-by-wire systems have increased stability and responsiveness and are becoming more and more prevalent in both fixed and rotary-wing aircraft.
In August 1939, following NRC President General Andrew McNaughton's concerns about a lack of optical equipment after the Canadian experience in World War I, C.J McKenzie established, during his role as the NRC President in 1940, the Crown Corporation Research Enterprise Limited (REL) to build optical and radar equipment for allied forces. REL created jobs and manufactured millions of dollars' worth of equipment to war efforts in the years to follow.