An Army-funded research group at Carnegie Mellon University, working with engineers at Piasecki Aircraft Corporation, has made a huge leap forward -- or perhaps skyward -- for the future of autonomous flight. In mid-June, the team launched an unmanned helicopter and watched it land several minutes later, after negotiating an in-flight obstacle course. But unlike previous unmanned helo flights, this one required no human input whatsoever; for the first time ever, a full-sized helicopter made a fully autonomous flight.
In orbit, debris as small as a metal screw can cripple a vehicle or kill an astronaut. Here are five ideas for cleaning up the growing band of trash circling Earth
By David KushnerPosted 07.13.2010 at 10:05 am 1 Comment
One Friday last November, the six astronauts onboard the International Space Station received an urgent warning from mission control: Watch out for space junk. A piece of orbital debris, possibly a chunk of satellite, was hurtling toward the station. A direct hit could break through the hull. The crew prepped for escape.
Just after the new year, DARPA put out a broad agency announcement requesting a flying car, specifically a one-to four-person, vertical takeoff and landing-capable vehicle that can negotiate off-road conditions as well as take to the skies. Today, Fort Worth-based AVX Aircraft has responded with a proposal, releasing some mock-ups of a dual-rotor, ducted-fan driven aircraft that's also road-ready.
Like renewing your driver's license at the DMV or getting someone from the cable company out to your place, calling in close air support can be a real process for troops on the ground. A request for an air strike from a commander on the ground goes through various higher-ups, analysts, lawyers, and other commanders, slowing the response time to a crawl. That's why DARPA is launching the Persistent Close Air Support Program (PCAS), under which the scheme is simplified: ground troops ask for a strike, and a robotic warplane brings the ruckus, no middlemen necessary.
Perhaps ranking behind only bullets and water, blood is one of those things you really don't want to run out of on the battlefield. But better battlefield medicine -- as well as some of the more malicious combat techniques employed by insurgent guerrilla fighters -- mean more soldiers are surviving their injuries, and that puts military blood banks in a bind. But a DARPA program launched in 2008 is coming to fruition, potentially providing medics an endless stream of universally accepted O-negative blood through a process known as blood pharming.
DARPA is an interesting and innovative agency, not only because it pushes the science and technology envelopes, providing funding, purpose, and goals to R&D houses looking to create next-gen technology, but also because its talents are unparalleled when it comes to acronyms.
Take, for instance, the agency's two newest initiatives: Biochronicity and Temporal Mechanisms Arising in Nature, and Robustness of Biologically-Inspired Networks. That's right: BaTMAN and RoBIN.
“Better, stronger, faster,” seems to be the mantra over at DARPA, so why wouldn’t the Pentagon’s innovative R&D wing demand the baddest, fastest computers in the world? Under the umbrella of its Ubiquitous High Performance Computing (UHPC) program, DARPA is looking to develop computers that make the prefix “peta” seem lame by comparison: a platform that can carry out one quintillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000) calculations per second. The exaflop era is upon us.
Technology developed by Virginia Tech for DARPA's Urban Challengein 2006 and 2007 is heading off to war, joining the U.S. Marines and troops from 13 other nations at in Hawaii for the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) war games next month. Aiding platoons of marines as they participate in the Naval Laboratory's experimentation that accompanes RIMPAC, VT's Ground Unmanned Support Surrogates (GUSS) will autonomously help grunts haul supplies, transport wounded, and carry out other platoon support tasks.
When it comes to self-aware, self-healing organisms, the human body is pretty well unmatched. So naturally, DARPA wants to match it. The military's mad-science wing is seeking new computer systems that would be highly resistant to cyber-attack, and if they are successfully attacked, able to adapt and recover. The so-called Clean-Slate Design of Resilient, Adaptive, Secure Hosts (CRASH) program seeks brand-new computers modeled on the human immune system.
The fight against pathogens is usually reactionary; a pathogen evolves or mutates, developing a drug resistance or finding a more efficient path toward infection, and researchers scramble to shift tactics for fighting off said pathogen. That’s not good enough for DARPA, which wants a means to look into the future so researchers can stop an outbreak of a potentially dangerous pandemic before it ever begins.