Military

Army’s first UAS ‘Hunter’ retired this month

Army’s first UAS ‘Hunter’ retired this month

The U.S. Army retired its first Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) this month, doing so with a formal ceremony to mark the end of “Hunter” and its long years of service. The drone took its last flight on December 16 at the Robert Gray Army Airfield, and was called a “valuable” tool for commanders and troops alike. Describing his role, Hunter’s operator Staff Sgt Zachary Norris said, “We’re like the ‘Eyes in the Sky’ for the ground troops.”

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DARPA’s BigDog robot put to pasture for being too noisy

DARPA’s BigDog robot put to pasture for being too noisy

It is probably a sad day for the robotics community. LS3, more popularly known as "BigDog" or even "AlphaDog", is practically being shelved. The quadruped robot, built by Boston Dynamics (before it was bought by Google) for DARPA, will no longer be the US military's dreamed pack mule in the field. Despite having all the flexibility, agility, strength, and even autonomy they'd want in a robot, BigDog apparently failed in one very critical criteria: it was just too noisy, making it dangerous to have around you in a hush hush operation.

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GM and Army team for Chevy Colorado fuel cell off-roader

GM and Army team for Chevy Colorado fuel cell off-roader

General Motors (GM) has announced that it has teamed up with the US Army to put a Chevrolet Colorado 4x4 truck that is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell into testing. The truck will be used for “extreme off-road” action according to GM. The truck will be in testing for 12 months with the Army.

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Uber and Lyft team up, give free rides to homeless veterans

Uber and Lyft team up, give free rides to homeless veterans

Uber and Lyft are both on board with a White House effort that aims to get homeless veterans off the street. Under the Joining Forces initiative, both ridesharing services will offer free rides to homeless veterans who need a lift to a job interview or something else job-related. The announcement comes on the cusp of Veterans Day, and addresses one of the bigger needs homeless veterans face when attempting to reintegrate into every day life — getting from point A to point B in a timely and affordable manner.

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Army details project for reading intelligence analysts’ minds

Army details project for reading intelligence analysts’ minds

The Army has detailed a research project in which a computer has successfully read a soldier’s mind, doing so by decoding brain signals. The technology is being developed to address a growing issue in the intelligence community — the glut of imagery gathered and the relative lack of people to go through it all in search of rare gems. Using computers able to “read” neural signals, intelligence officials could look at imagery at a much faster rate, with the computer reading the neural signals to pick out when something of interest has been seen.

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Lockheed Martin has been testing a jet-mounted laser turret

Lockheed Martin has been testing a jet-mounted laser turret

Late last week, Lockheed Martin announced that it has verified the performance of its laser weapon during almost 60 flight tests over the course of this year and last. The company used an unspecified business jet as its inexpensive testing platform, it said, using it to shoot laser beams from a turret while measuring its performance across all directions. In case you missed it, Lockheed's laser is no joke.

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Cyberattack risk prompts Navy to take up celestial navigation

Cyberattack risk prompts Navy to take up celestial navigation

Hackers have hit government agencies and private companies alike, and the instances of data theft and compromise are becoming increasingly severe. The risk of cyberattacks is ever present, and as such, the U.S. Navy has decided to restart teaching celestial navigation as a backup tool. The Naval Academy used to teach celestial navigation, but stopped in the 1990s, prompting outcry.

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DARPA’s looking toward disappearing delivery drones

DARPA’s looking toward disappearing delivery drones

The problem with making deliveries to remotely located military troops is that anyone can see the delivery take place — at least those nearby — and will know, as a result, approximately where the team is located. In other situations, the delivery vehicle could be at risk by being visible. Parachutes are the most common form of military delivery operations, but they’re burdensome in addition to being visible, requiring personnel to bring the parachute back out with them. As a potential way to solve these problems, DARPA has turned its sights toward invisible delivery drones.

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DARPA ElectRx program underway: seven teams selected

DARPA ElectRx program underway: seven teams selected

DARPA's ElectRx self-healing program is now underway, with the research entity having selected seven research teams who will work toward the goal of using electricity to heal wounded soldiers. DARPA describes this as being a “closed-loop system” that heals via “modulating the activity of peripheral nerves,” with the targeted diseases including everything from inflammation and achy joints to PTSD.

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Military testing towers with remote-controlled weapons

Military testing towers with remote-controlled weapons

The U.S. Army is testing remote-controlled weapons at guard towers, something aimed at reducing how many soldiers are needed to secure a perimeter. The testing is taking placed at Fort Bliss in Texas presently; this is an evaluation, according to the Army, one called Network Integration Evaluation 16.1 (NIE). The testing is taking place from September 25 to October 8, giving it one more week to go.

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DARPA’s exploring chip implants to create enhanced soldiers

DARPA’s exploring chip implants to create enhanced soldiers

DARPA, ever exploring the mad science aspects of what is and could be possible, is looking into the possibility of implanting chips into soldiers’ brains to enhance their performance on the battlefield..and, maybe, to help them deal with the traumatization that often results. In this case, the trauma is of the physical sort — traumatic brain injuries are too common amongst soldiers on the battlefield, and they’re often life changing.

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Boston Dynamics’ Spot robo-dog being tested by Marines

Boston Dynamics’ Spot robo-dog being tested by Marines

DARPA and Boston Dynamics’ robotic dog Spot, which we talked about back in February, is now being tested by the Marine Corps for possible use in warfare situations. DARPA trained Marines located at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico on how to operate Spot, which weighs 160 lbs. Among other things, Spot is being tested as a way to search for enemies ahead of Marines entering a building.

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