Northrop Grumman has shown off what it believes the military spaceplane of the future should look like, a futuristic and reusable aircraft designed as part of a $3.9m DARPA contract. The Experimental Spaceplane XS-1 would automate a large percentage of flight, as well as kick-start hypersonic aircraft development once more, Northrop Grumman claims, though the company still has competition.
A new report into DARPA-funded research draws deep connections between computer games for children and advanced military software, a modern day Ender's Game using STEM to improve US soldier training. These aren't pre-teens inadvertently directing fleets of starships to destroy alien planets, though, with the kids instead said to be unknowingly helping develop software which will train military personnel on things like avoiding counter-insurgency and pacifying occupied territories.
If imitation is the best form of flattery, then geckos should feel honored. Taking inspiration from what it claims are the world's best climbers, DARPA's Z-Man project demonstrated how a human of rather heavy constitution can scale up a vertical wall using nothing other than a pair of paddles.
Robotics has seen many substantial developments over the past few years, not the least of which is due to DARPA efforts. One of the newest ones is from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, more commonly called KAIST, that has developed a sprinting robot dubbed the Raptor.
DARPA, the US government's R&D arm, is looking to Oculus Rift to make cyber-warfare more approachable to the American military, immersing the military in 3D representations of target networks. Part of Plan X, DARPA's ongoing work on reducing the technical requirements for a new age of digital warfare, the Oculus integration is currently only conceptual, though the agency says it has already been briefed on upcoming hardware from the headset company.
DARPA has created a simple-looking and handy heads-up display (HUD) for infantry soldiers, with the unit being attached to their helmet and positioned in front of one eye. It is quite a bit larger than the tiny displays used in Glass and similar products, being akin to the HUD fighter pilots use.
This past August, MIT unboxed the impressive Atlas Robot for the DARPA Robotics Challenge, revealing a rather massive piece of machinery complete with various tethers that provide it with fluid and other necessities. In the next six or so months, MIT aims to get rid of those cables, among other things.
Late last year we mentioned that DARPA was working on a new project to create a next generation vertical takeoff and landing aircraft or VTOL. The project is called X-Plane and the goal is to design aircraft that can take off and land like a helicopter but fly much faster than a helicopter.
The US military has been rolling out portable electronic devices in droves for soldiers in the field. These gadgets run the gamut from tablets and smartphones to more dedicated devices for specific uses on the battlefield. Having more intelligence in the palm of their hand is a great thing for soldiers, but it also opens the door for those electronic devices to be captured by the enemy potentially revealing data that could be catastrophic in a battle.