After years of development and military funding setbacks, defense contractor Lockheed Martin is finally ready to debut its maple seed-inspired drone. The one-winged, one-foot-long SAMARAI drone just flew a test flight for the Associated Press ahead of its official unveiling at an unmanned vehicle conference next week.
Update: DARPA has gone silent regarding HTV-2, but its safe to assume at this point that contact with the hypersonic Falcon vehicle was lost before it fulfilled all of its mission objectives. No word yet on just how much data was collected or how many objectives were completed. More as this develops.
Too much gadget and not enough battery. It's a problem any early adopter of a smartphone has faced (and, to some degree, is still facing) and can be a particular hassle when you're traveling. Lots of gadgets means lots of charging cords or spare batteries. So imagine what it's like for the average soldier who is routinely on the go and increasingly weighed down with gadgetry and power sources.
With the national debt talks moving into day whatever and Congress arguing about how best to fix the budget deficit, the bloated defense budget continues to be a touchy topic in Washington. So perhaps it's a good thing that DARPA is moving forward with its best effort to mend the broken military procurement process by selecting Vanderbilt University to set up vehicleforge.mil, the new open-source development tool that aims to get everyone involved in designing the next generation of military machinery, a la the FLYPmode.
Remember that ballon challenge DARPA issued back in 2009 to see how quickly a team--or even a crowd--could work together to locate ten red balloons placed randomly around the U.S.? Here's what we wrote about it then: "Most DARPA challenges serve some sort of obvious military or intelligence purpose. But the agency has us scratching our heads over its latest competition."
The military and defense contractors can learn a lot from the wisdom of the masses, and American fighting forces could be better equipped and better protected if higher-ups would embrace the DIY ethos of ingenuity and agility. At least that’s how Jay Rogers, founder of an automotive firm that just built a military concept vehicle from crowdsourced plans, sees things.
Robots, nanotechnology and other manufacturing of the future can reposition the U.S. as a global technology leader and revitalize the nation’s flagging economy, President Obama said Friday morning. In a visit to Carnegie Mellon University, Obama announced a $500 million investment in advanced technologies, including $70 million for a national robotics initiative.
Despite our best efforts, humans are still not as skilled at making life as life forms are themselves. So naturally, DARPA would like to take advantage of that skill. A new program called “Living Foundries” seeks to use biology as a manufacturing platform, enabling the creation of new materials that are impossible to make today.
Fragmented human genomes could be shipped toward the stars and reconstructed upon their arrival, spawning the first interstellar citizens and avoiding the problems of long-distance space survival.
That's just one idea — proposed by genome pioneer J. Craig Venter — emerging from the field of dreams seeded by DARPA's 100-Year Starship project. DARPA is collecting proposals for a conference on the starship project this fall.
Of all the DARPA projects we follow here at PopSci--and regular readers know that we follow a lot of them--perhaps none has been quite so fascinating as the Nano Air Vehicle (NAV) program, a.k.a. the robotic hummingbird, which culminated earlier this year in a working prototype.