The first priority in a bomb-related emergency is, of course, to safely dismantle the bomb. If it's a pipe bomb--the basement-built explosive device--a robot could be sent in to do the job. But enlisting one could hurt officials' secondary objective: obtaining evidence to determine who built the bomb. SAPBER, a new robot, can safely disarm it and turn over the forensics needed to track down its maker.
The Department of Homeland Security is carefully watching the internet. They search through publications like this one (actually, specifically this one: we've been on the DHS watch-list for awhile), as well as all of our public social media lives, for possible "Items of Interest," which they find by searching for a whole bunch of sometimes-ridiculous keywords. (Animal New York rounded up a bunch of them.) It got us wondering: We write about a lot of security and military stuff here at PopSci. What's the DHS reading on our site?
Apparently, Russian hackers are targeting Springfield, Illinois's water. According to Wired's"Threat Level," last week a group of hackers breached the Springfield, Illinois water utility system and remotely destroyed a water pump.
One of the biggest disasters we face would begin about 18 hours after the sun spit out a 10-billion-ton ball of plasma--something it has done before and is sure to do again. When the ball, a charged cloud of particles called a coronal mass ejection (CME), struck the Earth, electrical currents would spike through the power grid. Transformers would be destroyed. Lights would go out. Food would spoil and--since the entire transportation system would also be shut down--go unrestocked.
If those new airport X-ray scanners offend your modest sensibilities, you may not want to read this. A new terahertz remote sensor may soon be able to see through walls, packaging materials, and even clothing from thousands of feet away, identifying materials contained inside through their unique spectral signatures.
Big Brother was watching before, but soon he'll bewatching with a whole new set of high-tech eyes. The Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is creating a wide-eyed new camera system that captures video in 360 degrees, stitching together video in real time to provide a sweeping view of a secured area, which technicians can zoom into while still keeping one eye on the big picture.
From aerial drones to virtual fences, the Department of Homeland Security employs a wide range of tools to protect the nation's borders. But a pair of Texas lawmakers now want a decidedly more futuristic approach: electromagnetic pulses.
Republican Michael McCaul and Democrat Henry Cuellar want the border patrol to use portable EMP emitters to disable cars, boats or a host of other electronic items.
Patriotic geeks might want to brush off those resumes, because the long-awaited U.S. Cyber Command officially went live last Thursday, and hopes to recruit at least 1,000 cyber security experts over the next few years. But the newly formed group faces questions about its mission and responsibilities, as well as competition for recruits from U.S. intelligence agencies.
The announcement by the Department of Homeland Security also coincided with the kickoff of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which infuses the usual trick-or-treat spirit of October with additional meaning.
Calling a lithe, sniffing robot a "ferret" raises hopes that it'll be rather cuter than the mockup pictured, but the cargo-screening device in development has capabilities that outshine its aesthetic shortcomings. Though still in its beginning stages -- working prototypes will be ready in about two years -- this robot could revolutionize airport and seaport security by serving as an all-in-one drug, weapon, explosive, and illegal-stowaway detection powerhouse.