DARPA’s Tactically Expandable Maritime Platform (TEMP) program is a wide-ranging effort to pack standard ISO shipping containers with technologies that can assist during humanitarian disasters or aid military in solving other unconventional, international problems (like piracy). Essentially DARPA wants a modular means to quickly turn any ship into a technology-laden base of operations that can quickly execute ship-to-ship or ship-to-shore operations. We’ve seen the ship-based portion of this before. We’re now seeing the ship-to-shore piece.
The future of military robotics isn’t all heavy metal and humanoid soldier-bots. If DARPA’s newest warbot implement is any indication, the future is soft, lightweight, and inflatable. The Pentagon’s blue-sky research wing is about to award $625,000 to iRobot to develop an inflatable robotic arm that can lift four times its own weight.
Soft, bendy robots could have a wide variety of benefits, from squishing into tight spaces to conduct surveillance, to crawling through a person's body to deliver drugs or take medical images. But it's hard to build entirely soft objects containing soft bodies, soft batteries and soft motors.
Applying physics to put out a fire, as opposed to chemistry, is an idea DARPA has been eyeing for a while, and it might lead to military devices that can better snuff out fires in enclosed places. Now they have demonstrated a new device in action.
Soldiers scanning the battlefield for threats may soon get a new tool: a brain-scanning set of binoculars that can pick up on a soldier’s unconscious recognition of a potential threat and bring it to his conscious attention. It’s just one of many ways DARPA and other military research groups are looking to have soldiers mind-meld with their machines and materiel, and as the BBC reports, it demonstrates how remarkably close we are to deploying mind-control on the battlefield.
In late 2011, DARPA announced its intention to create an on-orbit capability to harvest dead satellites and recycle their parts into new orbiting communications outposts. In 2012, the research arm of the DoD is making good.
Not content to let scientists figure out how to engineer animals and plants depending on the situation, DARPA wants to generalize the process, creating a manufacturing framework for all living things. The “Living Foundries” program sets up an assembly line paradigm for life and its constituent parts, and the DOD’s crazy-science arm just handed out its first research grants.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.