When a roadside bomb or other explosive device goes off, it hits everything nearby with an extreme blast of pressure. Almost simultaneously comes a heat--more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit--that's hot enough to cook skin. Presented today at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, a new invention will try to counteract that, and do it through a technology that's already been used for hundreds of years: camouflage paint.
Improvised explosive devices are far and away the single biggest killer of coalition troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, so the ability to identify hidden explosive threats is key to keeping soldiers safe. A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a tool that could detect roadside bombs from afar, using nothing more than a laser with an energy output of a presentation pointer.
A new technique uses electromagnetic pulses to detonate improvised explosive devices from afar, potentially thwarting the roadside bombs that have been the scourge of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, lest anyone forget, the ongoing guerrilla conflicts in places like Colombia.
Finding and capturing insurgents behind deadly roadside bomb attacks has proven tricky, but an ex-U.S. Air Force officer says that airships could have deployed as early as 2006 to provide steady surveillance that can track bombers back to their lairs. Now he has gone public with his criticism of how the Air Force shunted aside airships in favor of preserving the roles of aircraft and satellites -- an action that he says cost the lives of warfighters.
Boeing's laser weapons have already shown the power to blast aerial drones from the sky, but may find even more immediate use in detonating roadside bombs, which are a top killer of soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. A newly unveiled video shows the company's truck-mounted Laser Avenger destroying two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) during a series of 50 test firings that took place at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama last September, according to OptoIQ.
Despite the vehicles' armor, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) can still take out Humvees and MRAP vehicles with ease. But a company wants to change that equation with airbags that neutralize incoming RPGs and prevent them from exploding.
Roadside bombs have long represented the greatest killer of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, but there's hope beyond the sturdy little demolition bots that already work with their human handlers. The Pentagon now has two aerial drones on the testing docket as possible countermeasures for improvised explosive devices (IEDs)--one of which we're calling 'Helipanda' for the remainder of this post.
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.