Three Brazilian cutting-edge defense technology projects have caught the attention of the U.S. military and are vying for funding under the Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) agreement between both nations. The projects, which involve technologies such as mind mapping, bioprinting, and artificial intelligence, are being developed by the Center for Defense and Security (CDS) of the National Service for Industrial Learning Integrated Manufacturing and Technology Center (SENAI CIMATEC).
Located in Salvador, Bahia state, the center is a network of professional schools that offers technical education with the aim of promoting industrial innovation. If the projects are approved, it will be the first time that SENAI CIMATEC will have the financial support of the U.S. military.
One of the projects involves the use an electroencephalogram to identify military decision patterns. The idea is to use the equipment to map brain functions of military personnel who have a leadership role and advanced decision-making skills, in order to identify what stands out. “That’s the first part of the project. The second will be to study the likelihood of transferring this experience in some way to the brains of military personnel in training,” Milton Deiró Neto, CDS senior consultant, told Diálogo.
In addition to Defense and Security, SENAI CIMATEC has 42 other areas of specialization, from food to biomedical engineering. About 900 employees work in these areas, including technicians, professors, and researchers. The project for the use of the encephalogram currently involves psychologists, doctors, and engineers.
The second project that caught the attention of the U.S. military is the bioprinting cartilaginous tissues. “The focus is dual, with application in the civilian area, as in the case of an athlete who might have needs for a certain part of the body to be made, and in the military area, if we think, for example, of a combat wounded person who would need for some cartilaginous part of the body to be made,” Deiró said.
Bioprinting is an existing technique inspired by 3D printing, which uses biomaterials as raw material, such as cells and water-based gel, for example. As such, the bioprinter can construct structures such as organs and tissues. In the case of the SINAI CIMATEC project, researchers are seeking to print cartilaginous tissue. “The one who had the idea and is developing the initial research is a professor of biomaterials at CIMATEC, in partnership with the University of California San Diego [UCSD], which has a bioprinter,” Deiró said.
According to Deiró, the goal is for CIMATEC researchers to develop the biomaterial in Brazil to later carry out printing tests at UCSD. “We always try to do our research in partnership with U.S.-based institutions, which have always been great partners of Brazil,” Deiró added.
SINAI CIMATEC’s third idea is the use of artificial intelligence to increase welding reliability in nuclear structures. According to Deiró, although nuclear structures already have high safety standards, SINAI CIMATEC’s project proposes to improve welding procedures and the subsequent maintenance of welded structures through artificial intelligence, “as has happened in other areas, which have shown a lower error rate than human processing,” Deiró said.
Strengthening the partnership
The Brazilian Senate’s approval of the RDT&E agreement in April 2022 strengthened technology exchange between Brazilian and U.S. institutions in the military area. the RDT&E agreement, signed in 2020 during President Jair Bolsonaro’s visit to U.S. Southern Command, Miami, Florida, allows for closer collaboration in defense technology, while also attesting to the mutual trust that underpins relations between both nations.