Back in February Congress directed the Federal Aviation Administration to fast-track the integration of unmanned aerial systems into the U.S. national airspace, but it didn't tell the FAA how exactly to do this. To fly unmanned drones in shared airspace with conventional manned aircraft (or with other drones) is dangerous without a means for planes to know where other aircraft--manned and unmanned--are. Termed "sense and avoid" (or "see and avoid") this technology is a key but difficult piece of our drone-enabled future, and the Army just took some huge steps toward making it a reality.
Why drones won't be taking over our wars anytime soon
By C.J. ChiversPosted 04.23.2012 at 9:50 am 22 Comments
Early in 2008 on the Black Sea coast, a Georgian drone flying over the separatist enclave of Abkhazia transmitted an instantaneous artifact from the age of human flight—the video record of its own destruction by an attacking fighter jet. What happened that day was born of incendiary post-Soviet politics. The Kremlin backed Abkhazia and was furious that Georgia had bought surveillance drones to watch over the disputed ground. Georgia's young government flaunted its new fleet, bullhorning to diplomats and to journalists like me what the drones were documenting of Russia's buildup to war.
The homemade bombs known as IEDs accounted for 60 percent of all U.S. military injuries in Iraq and have killed more than 21,000 Iraqi civilians. Last November, a month before the last U.S. troops departed, Iraq's federal bomb squad paraded with bomb-disposal robots in Baghdad. QinetiQ North America has sold 16 of the $100,000 remote-controlled Talons to the Iraqi police.
BAE Systems's Adaptiv technology enables objects as big as tanks to completely vanish from view--when seen at night with an infrared sensor, admittedly, but that's still a major advantage. An Adaptiv-outfitted tank can change its thermal signature to look like anything from a big rock to a truck to nothing at all, fading into the background and becoming invisible.
By Andrew RosenblumPosted 08.04.2011 at 2:52 pm 0 Comments
Some of the students interning on the Micro-autonomous Systems Technology (MAST) project at the Army Research Lab in Maryland spend their summer trying to equip soldiers with dozens or even hundreds of “insect” robots that can swarm into a bunker or cave to provide a remote look inside. “Working in silicon at the fruit-fly scale, they’ll cost almost nothing,” says Chris Kroninger, an aeronautics researcher specializing in MAST’s wings, “and they can be equipped with limited sensor capability that can be a first warning for a soldier.”
Northrop's heavy-duty hauler CaMEL has been a success, scoring contracts from Israel and serious interest from the U.S. Army. But why haul miscellaneous stuff when you can haul a giant gun instead?
The hauler is named the Carry-all Mechanized Equipment Landrover--yeah, that spells out CaMEL. It's a 60-inch-tall treaded vehicle capable of carrying an impressive 1,200 pounds of stuff, and its usefulness in the field is proven by its popularity. Israel has bought more than 60 of them, and the U.S. Army is looking into its possibilities as well.
Of all places, the U.S. military has proven one of the fiercest proponents of renewable energy, and for totally practical reasons -- most importantly cost and safety. Now, military higher-ups plan to rely on renewable energy sources for 50 percent of their power by 2020, which could help the worldwide advancement of those technologies immeasurably. One company of Marines, saddled with tons of solar power tech, is kickstarting this revolution.
If something doesn't smell right, the Army wants to know about it. But while the Pentagon has been angling for a biosensors that can smell fear or nervousness in a person's bodily emanations for some years now, the Army wants something more: The ability to "uniquely identify an individual based on scent" from a distance or even days after the person has left the scene.
Making U.S. Navy carrier groups and Army bases more self-sufficient and energy-efficient could mean turning to mobile nuclear reactors. The Pentagon's DARPA scientists have put forth the modest proposal of deploying miniature reactors to convert hydrogen and carbon into military jet fuel, as well as providing power, The Register reports.