DARPA To Begin Testing Its Sub-Hunting Drone Ship

Technology is getting smarter, it is now getting to the point where technology can start doing things that would often require a human such as deliver pizzas. DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency) is keen on seeing this automated technology makes its way into the battlefield. Recently DARPA revealed its Anti-submarine warfare continuous trail unmanned vessel (named ACTUV for short), a sub-hunting drone ship that can operate without a human crew, and it now seems like they are already testing out what it can do.

ACTUV is already in testing and has already passed its speed tests. Designed to go at 31mph, the ACTUV met these expectations and have left people wondering what the next text may be. The ACTUV is designed to track foreign submarines and will then follow them, the ultimate hope being of either forcing them to emerge or retreat.

The ACTUV was also designed to do more than just hunt subs, with it being able to transport deliveries and perform long-term sea reconnaissance missions, all the while freeing up a human crew for duty aboard another vessel.

You can see the ACTUV launch and test out its speed in the video below. Luckily for those in fear of the robots going to the kill us, the ship isn’t equipped with any weaponry and is purely an advance reconnaissance vessel, no combat use what so ever, a reassurance I’m sure many will be happy with.

DARPA Might Have a Way to Improve Satellite Longevity

It’s definitely not cheap to develop a satellite and launch it into space, so as you can probably imagine, its creators would prefer it if that satellite would remain fully operational for as long as possible. Unfortunately, geosynchronous Earth orbit satellites that follow our planet’s rotation are often faced with various problems that prevent them from functioning properly after a time, which is why DARPA has been working on a solution to extend their longevity. Apparently, scientists have come up with a system named Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites or RSGS, which would act as a lifeline for these large and very important devices.

According to the company, the program would “radically lower the risk and cost of operating in GEO,” by solving a series of issues that currently plague satellites. These include mission-ending mechanical anomalies such as problems with solar arrays and antennas. Moreover, the system would also deliver upgrades to antennas, and it will do all of these things with the help of a robotic arm named “FREND.” The system’s launch would be covered by DARPA and the government, but a commercial service would be needed afterwards in order to ensure its functionality in the long run.

“Under the RSGS vision, a DARPA-developed modular toolkit, including hardware and software, would be joined to a privately developed spacecraft to create a commercially owned and operated robotic servicing vehicle (RSV) that could make house calls in space. DARPA would contribute the robotics technology, expertise, and a Government-provided launch. The commercial partner would contribute the satellite to carry the robotic payload, integration of the payload onto it, and the mission operations center and staff. If successful, the joint effort could radically lower the risk and cost of operating in GEO.”

DARPA’s Preparing Its Autonomous Robot Ship

It won’t be too long now before DARPA will officially unveil its brand new autonomous robot ship, at least according to the agency’s director, Arati Prabhakar. During a recent media event, she revealed that DARPA’s Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel will be christened in April. This is actually the very same vessel that submarine-hunting drone defense contractor Leidos started building back in 2014. Boasting a weight of 140 tons and a length of 132 feet, the vehicle will be completely autonomous, and it will navigate using a series of sonar buoys that will be deployed by the US Navy.

Once deployed, the “drone” will lock on to stealthy diesel-electric submarines using long and short-range sonar, and it will follow them around in order to report on their routes and activities. However, apart from being used for tracking, the vessel can also go on reconnaissance missions or supply delivery missions to other ships, not to mention the fact that it can actually counter undersea mines. The ACTUV will be unveiled in Portland, Oregon, and its creators will show off its full capabilities over the next 18 months. Arati Prabhakar also said something about a plan to launch 100 satellites in 10 days in 2017 using a reusable aircraft, so we have that to look forward to as well.

DARPA Developing On-Chip Liquid Cooling

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is helping to develop on-chip liquid cooling for field-programmable gate array (FPGA) systems that could easily be adapted for use with CPUs and GPUs. On-chip cooling of this manner would allow manufacturers to shrink the size of processors without having to consider the addition of heatsinks and fans, while increasing the lifespan of chips.

Thomas E. Sarvey, Graduate Research Assistant at the Georgia Institute of Technology, presented the paper Embedded Cooling Technologies for Densely Integrated Electronic Systems, revealing its on-chip liquid cooling research to date, during the IEEE Custom Integrated Circuits Conference 2015.

“We have eliminated the heat sink atop the silicon die by moving liquid cooling just a few hundred microns away from the transistors,” Muhannad Bakir, Associate Professor and ON Semiconductor Junior Professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said. “We believe that reliably integrating microfluidic cooling directly on the silicon will be a disruptive technology for a new generation of electronics.”

The research team cut microfluidic channels into the surface of the FPGA devices and attached a bespoke Altera-supplied water cooling system. It demonstrated the set-up, using another air-cooled FPGA for comparison, to DARPA. The liquid cooled chip clocked in at 24oC, compared to 60oC with the air-cooled control test.

Thank you The Stack for providing us with this information.

New Prosthetic Restores Sense Of Feeling

Medical technology appears in the news every few weeks, for all kinds of reasons, from being able to control them with a cap placed over your head to giving a man who was unable to walk the ability to do so again. The reasons for this constant stream of news is quite simple, medical technology is developing at an amazing rate, especially those related to giving back something to those who have suffered the loss of a body part or ability to do something with their body. The latest piece of news comes from DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency), and it features a little more than a visible result.

Made under the DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics, the latest prosthetic has given someone the ability to feel again after their arm was paralysed due to a spinal cord injury almost a decade ago.

The DARPA project manager, Justin Sanchez, stated that:

“We’ve completed the circuit. Prosthetic limbs that can be controlled by thoughts are showing great promise, but without feedback signals traveling back to the brain it can be difficult to achieve the level of control needed to perform precise movements.”

In the first set of tests, the researchers touched the hands fingers gently while the volunteer was blindfolded. With nearly 100% accuracy he was able to report which mechanical finger was being touched, the description that he provided was that it was as if his own hand was being touched. At one point, in an impromptu experiment, the researchers decided to press two fingers instead of one, breaking any perceived order that could have been guessed, it was at this point where a joke was made in response asking if they were trying to play a trick on him.

With the ability to produce prosthetics at an ever decreasing cost, with even more functionality and now with actual control and feedback, we could soon be looking at prosthetics that are controlled and feeling just like the human body would.

Thank you DARPA for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of DARPA.

IBM Wants to Put a ‘Rodent Brain’ in Your Phone

Dharmendra Modha has an array of 48 circuit boards, lined 6 by 8 on a rack, each with its own processor. Modha describes this set-up as a small rodent. Or, more accurately, a digital recreation of a small rodent brain, and one that he wants to put in your smartphone.

Modha works for IBM and has been developing the neuromorphic TrueNorth chip, which mimics the brain of a rodent with its cluster of 48 million artificial nerve cells, since 2008 as the Head of its Cognitive Computer Group. Researchers in Colorado working with the processor have developed software for it that can recognise spoken language and identify images, using deep learning algorithms. The project is backed by a $53.5 million grant from the US Department of Defense’s research arm, DARPA.

“What does a neuro-synaptic architecture give us? It lets us do things like image classification at a very, very low power consumption,” Brian Van Essen, a computer scientist for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said. “It lets us tackle new problems in new environments.”

The TrueNorth CPU is a low-power conduit for the kind of deep learning artificial intelligence that is being utilised by Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, usually through more powerful GPUs. The low power consumption of the TrueNorth means it has the potential to outperform its GPU and FPGA-powered alternatives.

Though TrueNorth cannot yet be described as a digital brain, the rodent synapse-inspired chip is certainly a step in the right direction. “You don’t need to model the fundamental physics and chemistry and biology of the neurons to illicit useful computation,” Modha says. “We want to get as close to the brain as possible while maintaining flexibility.”

Thank you Wired for providing us with this information.

19-Year-Old’s Supercomputer Chip Startup Gets DARPA Funding

Ambitious 19-year-old Thomas Sohmers, who launched his own supercomputer chip startup back in March, has won a DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in the US) contract and additional funding for his company, worth $100,000. The startup, Rex Computing, is currently putting finishing touches to the architecture of its final verified RTL, which is expected to be completed by the turn of the year. The new Neo chips will be sampled next year, before moving into full production, using TSMC’s 28 nanometre process, in mid-2017.

Rex Computing recently raised $1.45 million capital during its first round of funding – with which it intends to hire more engineers to facilitate the production of its Neo chip – but will still have to rely on a small team, working to a punishing deadline. Despite constraints, though, Sohmers seems optimistic that Rex can deliver the Neo on time.

“When Intel does this, they have 300 or more people on many teams over 18 months. We’re doing it with five on a tight schedule,” Sohmers said. “The cost for us going to TSMC and getting 100 chips back is, after you include the packaging and just getting the dies to our door, around $250,000. They sell them in blocks with shared costs of the mask among other companies, which is how we’re getting our first prototypes made.”

The secret to Rex’s early success, in terms of funding and support, Sohmers claims, is to use the term “supercomputer” as infrequently as possible. “In this age of social networks and messaging apps being the big thing in Silicon Valley, it’s almost impossible to get funded if you’re pitching something for the big iron systems,” he explained.

Thank you The Platform for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Meet the Robot That Won $2 Million in the Darpa Robotics Challenge

In Pomona, California on Friday and Saturday, some of the greatest robotic engineers gathered together to compete for a £2 million prize in a competition run by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to find the most advanced robot in the world. The two-day event pitted 24 teams –  each with their own robot funded by companies and institutions such as Amazon and NASA – against each other.

“You are going be the vanguard of this new future that you’re going to go build,” Arati Prabhakar, director of Darpa, said at the prize-giving ceremony. “We have people here from countries all over the world, and every single one of you made an incredible contribution to the field of robotics. As you do that, I know you’re going to think back to 2015, the end of the DRC and the beginning of a huge journey.”

The eventual winner that scooped the $2 million prize money, revealed on Saturday evening, was DRC-Hubo, a humanoid robot developed and built by the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon, South Korea. DRC-Hubo was one of three robots to successfully complete the eight-task challenge – the other two being Atlas, a robot developed by Google’s Boston Dynamics, and Chimp, built by Tartan Rescue – but the South Korean creation was the one deemed to have engaged with the test most effectively.

Thank you The Guardian for providing us with this information.

New Disposable Tech Can Draw Blood Without Needles

A new startup, sponsored by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has developed a new piece of medical tech that can draw blood, painlessly, without breaking the skin. The blood-drawing device – developed by Tasso Inc, an affiliate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison – could replace needles entirely and can be self-administered. To pursue the project, Tasso has been the beneficiary of a $3 million federal grant, courtesy of DARPA.

The ping-pong ball-sized device creates a small vacuum between it and the skin which draws blood from the body through tiny capillaries without even breaking the skin, let alone entering a vein as a hypodermic needle would. The blood then collects in the attached container, which holds up to 0.15 cubic centimetres of blood, which is enough for most routine tests, such as analyses of cholesterol, infection, cancer cells, and blood sugar levels – “basically anything that is being tested for in a modern lab,” according to Ben Casavant, vice president and co-founder of Tasso.

“We see our specialty as people who need to test semi-frequently, or infrequently, to monitor cancer or chronic infectious diseases,” Casavant continued in a press release. “Instead of buying a machine or expensive equipment, we ship you this device, you put it on your arm for two minutes and send it back to the lab.”

The device, still unnamed, could revolutionise blood testing, offering a less invasive alternative for people with an aversion to needles, and the ability to self-administer means freeing up nurses. Tasso hopes to bring the product to market by 2016.

Thank you Gizmodo for providing us with this information.

Android Tablet Delivers Air-Strike in Just Four Minutes

Up until now, American Joint Terminal Attack Controllers have been faced with calling in airstrikes using radios and paper maps. During that time, they required to coordinate and monitor positions of inbound aircrews to avoid friendly fire, while also being in the middle of a firefight. Now, thanks to DARPA and their new Android tablet, it takes less time to do that.

DARPA’s Persistent Close Air Support works by having it run on the tablet named Kinetic Integrated Low-cost SoftWare Integrated Tactical Combat Handheld, or KILSWITCH for short. The tech was used before in tactical and navigational applications, but this is the first time the military integrated it into air support.

The PCAS is also integrated directly into a plane’s tactical system and acts as well as the older radio-map method did, but in only four minutes. It has been designed to give real-time situational awareness data sharing between ground forces and overhead aircraft.

The system relies on live satellite, intelligence, and surveillance feeds to ensure that both parties are aware of each other up until the bombing commences. This would also allow the military to use fewer smart munitions. DARPA has tested the new tech in TALON REACH, an US Marine Corps infantry/aviation training exercise held in New Mexico.

“I am very pleased with the successful PCAS demonstration that we had during TALON REACH,” Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis, the Marine Corps’ deputy commandant for aviation, said in a statement. “I have emphasized to my team that we will network every one of our aircraft.”

With more and more technological advancements, it seems that the modern battlefield is drastically changing its façade. It seems that the latest involves bombing in less time than it takes for a pizza to arrive at your doorstep.

Thank you Endgadget for providing us with this information

DARPA’s Idea to Replace Batteries with Propane Seems Mad and Genius at the Same Time

Soldiers are becoming more and more reliant on technology and the old-fashioned lithium-ion batteries won’t really do the trick. The US military currently uses the Ultralife UBI-2590 battery pictured below, which weighs in at 1.4kg a piece. However, their capacity is extremely limited and solders need a lot of them to get the job done in the field.

To overcome this issue, DARPA’s Transformative Apps program and their team of engineers from Ultra Electronics have built a lightweight, 350-watt propane generator that is capable of charging its batteries in the field, with the added bonus that it is completely silent.

The idea might not seem such a game changer, but the picture below comparing the old Ultralife UBI-25290 and DARPA’s propane alternative seems to make sense. The screenshots describe that the propane solution is equivalent to 100 Ultralife batteries, which in turn help soldiers reduce the weight load. One Ultralife UBI-2590 battery weighs in at 1.4 kg, while the generator weighs only 5 kg and the tank just 9 kg. There even seem to be smaller 1.8 kg tank alternatives, should the 9 kg propane tank be too much.

Thank you Gizmodo for providing us with this information

DARPA Developing Superior GPS Replacement

Anyone who’s tried to negotiate their way cross-country with only a satnav for guidance knows that GPS signal can be temperamental. It seems that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) must have also struggled with a ten-hour road trip from Bournemouth to Loch Lomond, as it is developing a “radical” new technology to replace global positioning systems.

DARPA has written a new paper on the matter, in which it states its aim to create a system that goes beyond satellite tracking and signal strength. Or, as DARPA puts it, “The need to be able to operate effectively in areas where GPS is inaccessible, unreliable or potentially denied by adversaries, has created a demand for alternative precision timing and navigation capabilities.”

As part of the endeavour, DARPA is also developing self-calibrating gyroscopes, accelerometers, and tracking clocks that don’t depend on wireless signal. The system is projected to be self-contained, housing all the data you need to track your position within the device. In addition, DARPA wants to track local “signals of opportunity”, like television, radio, and even meteorological conditions, such as lightning, to help location tracking.

DARPA is, of course, focusing on military implementation but, as with all good tech, the new location system is sure to bleed through to the consumer market.

Source: Engadget

Students Come up with New Fire Extinguisher That Puts out Fire Using Sound

Fire extinguishers can be found in any buildings nowadays in case of a fire outburst. The concept of the fire extinguisher hasn’t changed much over the years, but it still does the trick. However, what if someone could come up with another way to put out fires? They just did.

A couple of students from George Mason University are said to have created a fire extinguisher that uses sound to put out flames. While this sounds extremely revolutionary, it unfortunately is not. DARPA is said to have been the first with a similar concept unveiled back in 2012, but the two students, Viet Tran and Seth Robertson, have managed to take the concept and make it portable, something that DARPA has failed to achieve in the past.

The students managed to make the sound-based fire extinguisher work by having the device emit a certain frequency, also named the “Goldilocks zone” that exists at 30-60 Hz, that basically kept oxygen away from the flame long enough to put them out.

Having worked out the design, they moved on in figuring out how to make this theoretical concept into an actual portable design. The students apparently used a sound frequency generator, a small amplifier, and a collimator made out of cardboard with a hole at the end that helps focus the waves in a direction. The result consisted of a device that has no problems putting out a small fire.

With their new design, Tran and Robertson plan to revolutionise firefighting in homes and in the office. However, there is a long way to go before we see these fire extinguishers replacing traditional ones. The students now plan to do more testing and figure out how to make the concept work with different fire types.

Thank you Ubergizmo for providing us with this information

Quadriplegic Woman Flies F-35 Jet Fighter Simulator with Her Mind

A 55-year-old quadriplegic woman has flown a F-35 Joint Strike Fighter simulator using only her mind. Jan Scheuermann, who was paralysed years ago by a rare genetic disease, is a patient of an experimental Pentagon robotics program. As part of the program, she has electrodes implanted in her brain which allowed her to control an artificial arm. The same technology then allowed the Pentagon initiative, run by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), to hook Scheuermann’s brain directly into the F-35 simulator.

The Director of DARPA, Arati Prabhakar, revealed the breakthrough during the Future of War conference last week. “Instead of thinking about controlling a joystick, which is what our ace pilots do when they’re driving this thing, Jan’s thinking about controlling the airplane directly,” said Prabhakar. “For someone who’s never flown — she’s not a pilot in real life — she’s flying that simulator directly from her neural signalling.”

“In doing this work, we’ve also opened this door,” she continued. “We can now see a future where we can free the brain from the limitations of the human body and I think we can all imagine amazing good things and amazing potential bad things that are on the other side of that door.”

Scheuermann says she’s proud to be involved in the pioneering study, telling CBS, “I’ve always believed there’s a purpose to my illness. I didn’t think I would ever find out what it was in my lifetime.”

“And here came this study where they needed me. You know, they couldn’t just pick any Tom, Dick or Harry off the street. In a few years, the quadriplegics and the amputees that this is going to help — the Department of Defense is funding some of this for vets — to be of use to them, in service to them, what an honour.”

Source: DefenseTech

US Defense Department Develops Bullet That Can Change Direction Mid-Air

The US Defense Department has developed a laser-guided bullet that can change its trajectory in mid-air to follow a moving target. The .50-calibre EXACTO bullet – and acronym for EXtreme ACcuracy Tasked Ordnance – has an inbuilt sensor that can track its target from the mounted laser on the sniper rifle it’s fired from.

“The EXACTO system seeks to improve sniper effectiveness and enhance troop safety by allowing greater shooting standoff range and reduction in target engagement timelines,” reads DARPA’s statement on the advanced round, boasting that its “specially designed ammunition and real-time optical guidance system help track and direct projectiles to their targets by compensating for weather, wind, target movement and other factors that could impede successful hits.”

Source: WND

MIT Demonstrate Atlas Robots New Trick

Remember the multi talented Atlas robot created by Boston Dynamics? Well it looks like it’s still being improved upon since it’s 2013 outing at the DARPA Robotics Challenge. While this is still one of the most capable humanoid robots on the planet, it’s still picking up new tricks and after some recent upgrades a team at MIT have taught Atlas to carry objects of different weights in each hand.

Carrying two different weight and/or size objects doesn’t sound overly impressive, but the way different objects behave has profound effects on movement, balance and more. Having this capability gives the Atlas robot a much wider range of real-world applications, such as carrying a heavy shield in one hand and a sawn off shotgun in the other… oh wait, I mean for things like construction or clearing out dangerous debris in disaster zones that would otherwise be unsafe for humans.

In the video below you can see Atlas dragging around a sizeable aluminium pillar with one hand. Feel free to mute the video if you’re not a fan of annoying high pitched noises.

[youtube width=”800″ height=”450″]http://youtu.be/oYSitvLW0r0[/youtube]

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Engadget.

DARPA Reveal New Ground X-Vehicle Technology for Tanks

DARPA have been working hard to design new tanks that use significantly less armour in a bid to make them incredibly agile, while still making them safe for their occupants. No easy task given that tanks typically have a lot of heavy armour for a damn good reason.

The new vehicle design has more in common with a dune buggy crossed with Batmans Tumbler than a typically slow and heavy tank, but it uses an array of sensors to allow it to detect incoming ballistics and move its armour shielding to the correct position to deflect the blast. This means it can operate with less armour more effectively.

Not only that, but the low weight means it has a greater chance of physically dodging incoming attacks as it can literally duck down by folding into the ground, make rapid changes to its speed, or swerve out of the way.

DARPA say they’re working on the design of these vehicles for the next 24 months, but you can see how far the design has come in the concept video below.

[youtube width=”800″ height=”450″]http://youtu.be/L2NXSgD_INY[/youtube]

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Engadget.

DARPA Working on Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel

DARPA is said to be working on an Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program, which is said to be the first robotic autonomous vessel designed to locate and track even the most quiet diesel submarines at the most extreme depths.

The national security, health and engineering company, Leidos, is part of the DARPA program tasked with building the ACTUV. Based in Reston, Virginia, the company is said to have been granted the ‘OK’ back in February in order to start work on the autonomous unmanned vessel, having it built at Christensen Shipyard in Vancouver, Washington, under the supervision of Leidos and Oregon Iron Works. Actual work on the vessel is said to take 15 months, with a launch date set for 2015 on the Columbia River.

“ACTUV’s advanced sensor technology should allow for continuous surveillance which, combined with the vessel architecture and design, is expected to provide autonomous safe navigation supporting Navy missions around the world,” says Leidos Group President, John Fratamico.

The ACTUV is said to be built out of carbon composite, using a modular design and a parallel workflow method in order to speed up assembly. In addition to the latter, the ACTUV is equipped with navigation and piloting sensors, electro-optics, as well as long and short-range radar. Leidos states tat the ACTUV’s modular design allows it to carry out anti-submarine warfare operations, having the ability to be refitted for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions as well.

Thank you Gizmag for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Gizmag

Forget the T-800, MIT and Google’s Boston Dynamics Are Said To Work on T-1000 Robots

There have been talk of future robots resembling the T-800 model from the Terminator series for some time now. Yet, no company has even arrived close to a design, yet alone a prototype of such a robot. While we won’t see any T-800’s running around anytime soon, we might see some versions similar to the T-1000. At least that is what MIT and Google’s Boston Dynamics are aiming to build.

Reports say that a team at MIT has discovered how to make a phase-changing material composed out of a mixture of wax and foam, having it change states from hard to soft at any given time. The researchers even state that thanks to the cheap materials and easy-to-make mixture, it can be used in a variety of robotics, spanning from common autonomous vacuum cleaners to high-tech advanced and complex robots.

The material has been stated to be the work of Anette Hosoi, a mechanical engineer and applied mathematics professor. She and her team, including her former graduate student Nadia Cheng, stated that the material could be used in a variety of fields, such as medical robots that can deform and change shape in order to navigate internal organs and vessels to perform delicate surgery. Other uses include rescue robots, having to navigate through collapsed structures in order to find and rescue survivors.

While the MIT has developed the material, it is said that Boston Dynamics is in charge of making the entire project, having it initially designed to contribute to Darpa’s Chemical Robots program aimed at developing robots with octopus-like abilities that are able to squeeze into small spaces. Therefore, the engineering team came up with the wax and foam idea, having the wax heated up with current running through a wire in the structure in order to make it malleable. A bonus to this technique is the material’s ability to ‘repair’ itself.

Having the wax material heated up, all deformations suffered while in the hardened state are said to repair themselves when in the soft state, just like the T-1000 robot from the Terminator movies, having the material recover from surface and even deeper damage. The researchers are said to now focus on finding a new material to replace the wax, having solder as a strong candidate. If the latter will prove to be true, then T-1000 models are not far away.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of TechCrunch

Bullet-Sized Homing Missiles Undergoing Tests at Darpa

We have seen a lot of advancements in military equipment and devices in recent years, but it seems that there is more to come. The latest news shows that the US military has been testing .50-calibre bullets with in-flight guidance systems, having the ability to turn the projectiles into small homing missiles.

The miniaturized homing missiles are apparently being made by Darpa’s Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordinance, or EXACTO for short, having them be designed with the ability to adjust their trajectory in-flight in order to hit targets that are not precisely aimed. This means that every bullet can hit any type of target, including moving, high-speed or long-range targets, without the need to compensate with other external factors, such as weather, wind or even elevation in some cases.

“For military snipers, acquiring moving targets in unfavourable conditions, such as high winds and dusty terrain commonly found in Afghanistan, is extremely challenging with current technology. It is critical that snipers be able to engage targets faster, and with better accuracy, since any shot that doesn’t hit a target also risks the safety of troops by indicating their presence and potentially exposing their location.” say Darpa on their website.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX8Z2MDYX3g[/youtube]

It is said that the EXACTO system is made up of both the bullet and the guidance system which tracks and delivers the projectile to the target. The bullets themselves are said to be the size of a large pen, having them to fit in both .50-calibre snipers and machine-guns. However, the new tech is still far away from reaching the battlefield. While tests show the first ever projectiles and their results in the field, more tests are said to be required in order to make the new tech ready for the actual battlefield.

Thank you Wired for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Ghillies and Stuff and video courtesy of Wired

Soldiers Running 4 Minute Miles Thanks to DARPA’s Exoskeleton

Sounds like something out of a video game right!? This is an exoskeleton and by now you all must of heard about them. They are lightweight frames that are designed to support soldiers carrying heavy loads of 100lbs or more, as tough as soldiers are 100lbs is still 100lbs and that will drain the soldiers energy very quickly. This is where the exoskeleton comes in. The exoskeleton that’s being developed by DARPA can help soldiers run a mile in just 4 minutes whilst carrying all their kit, amazing right? The exoskeleton supports the joints and muscles in the most demanding areas such as Knees, hips, arms and legs. This enables the soldier to move faster, be stronger and carry more kit without suffering. The exoskeleton is also designed to recognize when a part of the body is injured, for example, Soldier falls and badly hurts their knee, the exoskeleton would recognize this and apply extra support to that area enabling the soldier to continue like nothing happened. Obviously if they broke a leg or something then this wouldn’t mask it entirely but could still enable them to walk to, all be it painfully, the nearest place that offers medical treatment.

One of DARPA’s loftier goals for this project is to provide enough supplementary muscle power to soldiers that they can easily run a four-minute mile. The suit should be compatible with approximately 90 percent of wearers, both male and female. Using just 100W of power from a small battery, the entire setup should be light enough that soldiers will hardly realize they are wearing it. The only difference will be that they will be able to move faster, stronger and with less fatigue than they could without the suit.

 

The technology could be used outside of the battlefield as well, of course, to support firefighters and police, or even to help injured veterans regain some of their lost mobility. Check out the video of it in action below.

[youtube width=”640″ height=”340″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3Gz2yu5jUs[/youtube]

Thanks to Gajits for supplying us with this information.

Images courtesy of Gajits.

Google Robot Pulled out of Military Service, Aims to Develop Consumer Model

Schaft was working on developing some truly impressive robotics hardware for the military as part of the $2 million Robotics Challenge. This was an incentive setup by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to seek the most advanced robotics in the world. With barely half of the three year campaign underway, Google owned Schaft have pulled out of the running.

Schaft were already competing prior to Google buying them out, as the company was formed exclusively to work on this project. However, Schaft was accepting money from the Defense Department, which obviously meant that Google was then a defence contractor, not exactly their angle. Schaft announced earlier this year that it was renouncing DARPA funding now that it had Google writing the cheques, but have now elected to withdraw from the finals completely.

Now it looks like the company and Google, who also own Boston Dynamics, will be pushing for commercially viable products, so expect Google Android to take a whole new and somewhat literally meaning in the next couple of years.

[youtube width=”800″ height=”450″]http://youtu.be/diaZFIUBMBQ[/youtube]

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of YouTube.

DARPA Wants Deployable Ballistics Wall From Inside a Portable Canister

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is currently asking for proposals in the future development of BlockADE (Block Access to Deny Entry).  For companies and researchers interested in submitting a proposal, a statement of work isn’t currently required, as DARPA wants to just receive proposals.

If designed to meet specifications, soldiers in the battle field are able to carry a portable wall inside of a canister that is at least one-feet by 6.5-feet or smaller.

Soldiers would simply hit a button or pull a canister tab, and the barrier deploys – and should be see through and offer defense against traditional ammunition to help offer resistance against ballistics.

DARPA wants materials and device concepts that yield expansion ratios of several order of magnitude, including “mechanical strength for solid barriers, stickiness or sharpness for web or briar-like barriers, capacity to self-weld or self-assemble,” DARPA said in its official Request For Information (RFI).

Even if a DARPA project doesn’t lead to a direct product or technology, information collected can be used for other projects.  If one day deployed, the BlockADE could prove beneficial for U.S. police officers, federal authorities, and soldiers deployed on the battlefield.

Thank you io9 for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Military Armament

American Military Funding “Self-Destructing” Electronic Development Projects

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, has provided IBM with a $3.5 million contract to work on its “vanishing programmable resources project” (VARP). The BBC reports that this project is looking to develop a class of transient electronics that can be destroyed by remote control functions. The electronics would be used in combat zones where destroying sensitive electronic equipment before it falls into the wrong hands is a necessity.

IBM’s current proposal involves a radio frequency trigger that shatters a glass coating on a silicon chip before turning it into powder.

“A trigger, such as a fuse or a reactive metal layer will be used to initiate shattering, in at least one location, on the glass substrate.” the US government said in its grant award notice.

The VAPR technology could also have medical users such as the deployment of sensors in the body which can then be absorbed by the body after self-destruction. Of course the technology would require the destruction process, the broken-down end product and the absorption process to be totally safe to the body.

The US DARPA has also involved several other companies with the same project including Xerox company Palo Alto Research Center (Parc) who were given $2.1 million, Honeywell Aerospace who were awarded $2.5 million and SRI International who received $4.7 million late last year. All the companies are approaching the VARP project from their respective angles but the consensus on outcomes is similar – to create electronics that can be destroyed remotely or that decompose naturally after a specified period of time (built in obsolescence).

Image courtesy of The Hacker News

IBM and DARPA Working On Self-Destructing Chips

Self-destructing devices have only been seen in spy movies. But it is bound to become a reality now, since reports point to a partnership between IBM and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA for short, to develop self-destructing chips.

Now don’t think that the chips will go up with a big bang as you have seen in previous movies. It is said that last year, DARPA has announced its intentions to build similar devices. The plan intended the development of a chip that will degrade partially or completely into its surroundings when triggered.

IBM has heard of DARPA’s idea and joined in, bringing a $3,45 million contract to start on the project. It is known under the name of Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) and is said to develop a new class of electronics.

DARPA program manager, Alicia Jackson, stated that while commercial chips made for everyday use last nearly forever (in theory), they are going to make something slightly different, and make something that would last precisely as long as they are needed.

IBM is looking into putting all resources and make something that would render a silicone chip into unrecognisable dust, while DARPA is thinking that a trigger element, such as a reactive metal layer or fuse, could be the key to finding the solution.

DARPA is looking to use the process in its gadgets, which could effectively destroy them if lost or recovered by an opposing party, so as not to divulge the technology. Basically as you see in spy movies, where the agencies have all the high-tech that self-destruct if they are to fall into the wrong hands.

Thank you Tech Spot for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Tech Spot

Google’s New SCHAFT Robot Dominates At The DARPA Robotics Challenge

Team SCHAFT posing with their winning robot

With the DARPA Robotics Challenge, or more simply put DRC ending yesterday one clear winner was crowned. This being Google’s newly acquired SCHAFT Robot form Team SCHAFT, which started off at a Tokyo University before becoming a private company and then being bought by Google.  Which Google confirmed the purchase along with that of Boston Dynamics (the company that built the Atlas robot) a week before the DRC started. Team SCHAFT was crowned the clear winner with 27 points followed by Team IHMC robotics which were using Google’s other acquisition, the Boston Dynamics designed Atlas Robot.

Team SCHAFT’s 1.65 meter tall, 94 kilogram blue bipedal machine moved with uncanny grace through the challenges set before it. All of the top 8 finishers out of the starting group of 16 teams will be eligible to receive$1 million in funding from DARPA to continue honing and upgrading their robots before the final next year. With most teams more likely to put more time and effort into improving the software for controlling their machines. Also time will most likely be spent on improving the code that allows the robots to perform their tasks with supervised autonomy. However the Team SCHAFT robot offered a glimpse into what could be the future to come, with its fast movement through the rough terrain course and it’s ability to without hesitation move up two flights of steps at a time whilst the other robots moved a lot slower and with more care.

Could we be on the verge of seeing robots like that from the Terminator movies? We’ll have to wait for the finals next year to see, but with Google now owning two of the companies that are producing the smartest robots out there it could be a possibility. Only time will tell.

Thanks to Gizmodo for the information provided.

Images courtesy of Gizmodo 

Boston Dynamics Acquired By Google

According to an article by The New York Times, Google has acquired Boston Dynamics, builder of terrifying walking robots DARPA-related projects like WildCat/Cheetah, Atlas, Petman and Big Dog. Andy Rubin has moved over from leading Android to directing Google’s robotics efforts and tweeted a link to the story, commenting that “The future is looking awesome!”. Now that it’s out, don’t think that a company specializing in building state of the art robots and a company that knows everything there is to know can start building “Terminators” anytime soon. It is just a big step and an area worth pursuing, there is still a long way until we meet robots capable of comprehension.

There’s no word on how much Google spent to snap up the robotics company, but its founder Marc Raibert is quoted by the Times saying “I am excited by Andy and Google’s ability to think very, very big, with the resources to make it happen.” Raibert stated in an interview during Expand, he specifically highlighted his company’s recent growth and the possibility of building consumer-focused robots in the future.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqMVg5ixhd0[/youtube]

Google apparently does not plan to proceed as a military contractor itself, although according to the article, Boston Dynamics will honor its existing military contracts. Raibert confirmed the acquisition, but so far neither side has commented further or explained how search ties into robots that walk on two or four legs, jump, climb and crawl.

Thank you Endgadget for providing us with this information
Image and video courtesy of Endgadget