Not too long ago I watched a show on the Discovery Channel that showed some of the helicopter combat operations during the Gulf War. The thing that stuck out in my mind was the pilots talking about how hard it's for them to locate ground fire and fire back when the enemy is targeting them. The difficulty is so great that one of the helicopters was being fired on by tanks and still couldn't locate the enemy to fire back.
A heavily edited, declassified military report detailing weaknesses in British nuclear submarines has left the Ministry of Defense (MoD) red-faced, after it was revealed that the high-tech redaction used merely involved turning the background color black to match the text. The Daily Star discovered that merely copying the full text of the dossier - written in 2009 and listing what structural damage would prompt a core meltdown, other "potentially catastrophic accidents" and flaws in reactor designs - and pasting it into a fresh document would reveal the sensitive information.
The programs that DARPA runs often result in some of the coolest hardware and gear for military and civilian use being invented. One of the cool things that DARPA and its contractors have been working on are holographic goggles that give soldiers a bit of augmented reality on the battlefield.
The USAF and the companies and suppliers that are working on the new F-35 fighter jet that is overdue and over budget right now test every component of the aircraft for operation and reliability. The aircraft is capable of some very fast speeds and since it is a military aircraft odds are at least one pilot will need to eject from the jet at some point in its operational life.
This week TiaLinx has unveiled its Phoenix 40-A unmanned hexacopter (helicopter with six blades) which can sense breathing and motion in buildings on the ground. This is the newest addition to the line of life-sensing bots that includes the Cougar20-H, a rolling ground-based robot that can detect breathing through a concrete wall. The US Army has provided development funding for this project.
The military is looking into building apps on the Android and iOS platforms to let soldiers use cheaper, commercial products out in the field. The plan is that these commercial products like iPad or Android tablets will be employed to help with reconnaissance. Soldiers could send valuable information to command units much more quickly and even remotely control cameras on board military drones.
The Navy has issued a proposal asking for someone out there to build it “a coordinated and distributed swarm of micro-robots” that can manufacture “novel materials and structures.” So these would be robots that can work together to build things, presumably even other robots. The Navy intends for the robot swarm (and yes, that is an actual quote from the proposal) to use desktop manufacturing, which allows you to "print" 3-D objects with equipment you can fit on your desk and program with your laptop.
The U.S. Army launched today an iPhone app and mobile website blogging platform aimed at engaging current and potential recruits. Named Army Strong Stories, both the iPhone app and the mobile website offer portable access to site content and allow users to share their own Army Strong story, post comments, and learn more about Army service and career opportunities.
I like robots as much as the next geek, but some of them creep me out a bit. I blame it on Hector and Terminator scaring me as a kid. DARPA has some out there projects that often turn into some interesting finished items that may one day see the battlefield.
PFC Rupert Valero, stationed at Khandahar, Afghanistan, has been using his spare time to build robots and action figures out of found recycled materials. He uses things like bottle caps, microwavable soup containers, yogurt cups, and even Dr. Scholl's foot powder containers to assemble his creations.
In an interview with the blog Another Limited Rebellion, Valero said: "I love to improve 6” super-articulated action figures. I have an engineer’s mentality, so nothing is ever perfect enough. So I am big on tweaking and at time breaking and rebuilding toys. The use of found items is based on what is available to me out here. Slowly, I have amassed more resources like paint and hobby tools. Assemblage has really grown on me to the point I will continue to build from found items." Continue after the cut to see more of his super-fantastic action figures.