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.

Boeing’s Echo Voyager Can Last Six Months Underwater

Boeing is known for creating a wide range of devices. A surveillance drone here, a giant rocket there and a sprinkling of the world’s lightest metal all over creates a company that seems to explore everything on this planet and beyond. That seems to continue to be true with the Echo Voyager’s, a craft capable of lasting six months underwater.

The Echo Voyager is the latest in a long-range of underwater exploration vehicles from Boeing. The big difference in the latest 51-foot version, compared to its smaller cousins the 31ft Seeker and the 18ft Ranger, is the use of a rechargeable power system. Measuring at 7.4 miles per gallon, the volt uses a diesel generator to recharge its lithium-ion or silver zinc batteries when it reaches the surface (this avoids the exhaust being pumped into the water).

The Echo Voyager is designed for commercial release, giving companies and individuals alike to explore the depths of the ocean. Built to use standard commercial interface and satellite links, you could own your own remote-controlled underwater explorer.

Typically underwater vehicles could only spend a few days away from a ship before needing to resupply and recharge, some even opting for an “umbilical cord” solution of constantly providing the resources needed via a cable or tube. The Echo Voyager could see groups operating more autonomous from larger vessels, opening up new ways to explore the mysteries of the deep.

Internet to Name £200M Royal Research Ship With Predictable Results!

The Natural Environment Research Council, in a move that many would consider unwise, are leaving the name of their newest Royal Research Ship, which costs £200 million up to an open vote online. Comically, but perhaps far more tasteful than could be expected from such a poll, RRS Boaty McBoatface is currently the forerunner in the contest by quite a large margin. James Hand, who submitted the name suggestion simply stated in his submission that “It’s an absolutely brilliant name.”

The boat in question has been in development since 2014, as part of a £200 million grant to fund a new polar research vessel to provide the UK with a world-leading research capability in Arctic and Antarctic locations. Currently still under construction in the Cammell Laird Shipyard, the vessel will measure 128 meters long and have a full displacement of around 15 thousand tons.

Suggestions for the name will be open for new submission and voting until the 16th April, which is plenty of time for a whole host of great amusing and serious names to be voted on. Some people are already trying to cash in on the success of “Boaty McBoatface” with names such as “Boaty McBoatface The Return” while others settle for references to their favorite series, such as the “Pillar of Autumn” from Halo or “Boatimus Prime” a twist on the name of the popular Transformer.

As it stands, “Boaty McBoatface” looks set to win after only 3 days of contest, but with nearly a month to go before the winner is declared, there could very easily be an upset from a trailing competitor, be it another amusing entry, or serious suggestion, like the popular “RSS David Attenborough.” If you want to weigh in on the selection, the voting site can be found here, where you can browse popular submissions or submit your own, complete with an image of the boat adorned with the name.

Watch Blue Origin’s Rocket Landing from Vehicle’s POV!

The internet seems to love the videos of the technically amazing Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket launching and landing again and we’ve seen quite a few videos of this and enjoyed them all. However, there’s one more angle you won’t have seen yet, as the team have released a point of view video from the rocket that gives you an awesome new look at the landing.

Blue Origin is led by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who released a Vine of the second landing attempt which took place on January 22nd (video below). The shot was created using a camera which was mounted on the vehicle’s booster. The video (at the bottom of the this page) is only six seconds long, but keep in mind that this is because it was sped up from its normal speed. In the video, you can see New Shepard descend towards the launch pad, then deploy its legs, before landing a perfect propulsive landing technique.

This is an amazing technical achievement that simply cannot be understated. Not only did they launch the rocket into space and land it safely back on Earth, the most recent launch was the very same rocket, showing that their plans for a reusable rocket is making great progress. The project is destined to be a reusable rocket that can take passengers into sub-orbital space, where they’ll experience four minutes of weightlessness and if that’s not cool enough, they’ve got plans for bigger rockets already in the works.

The team is clearly making great progress, and with Space X and Virgin Galactic, to name but a few, all working on pushing new innovations to the world of space travel, the next few years are going to be extremely exciting.

Check out the video of the Blue Origin New Shepard rocket landing below and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

US concerned Over Russian Activity Near Undersea Data Cables

Tensions between nations over Cyber warfare have increased dramatically over the last 5 years, from the US accusing China and Russia of systematically hacking into highly sensitive government systems through industrial means, to groups affiliated with IS and similar terrorist organisations who have cyber attacked various departments. Now, Washington is reportedly becoming concerned that Russia and its fleet of military submarines could in theory cut vital undersea cables that carry almost all global communications.

As yet there is no evidence to suggest Russia or any other country has attempted this, but, according to US intelligence, or lack of sometimes, who are monitoring a significant and increased “Russian activity along the known routes of the cables, which carry the lifeblood of global electronic communications and commerce”.

It was reported last month (Sep 2015) that a Russian spy ship “equipped with two self-propelled deep-sea submersible craft, cruised slowly off the East Coast of the United States on its way to Cuba — where one major cable lands near the American naval station at Guantanamo Bay”. US officials state this spy ship has the ability to launch submersible vehicles that in turn could cut data cables situated miles down in the sea.

The Pentagon is also concerned that Russia is attempting to hunt for cables at much greater depths than originally thought where such data lines are harder to both monitor and repair. The significance of these data cables is vast considering it has been estimated that they carry “global business worth more than $10 trillion dollars a day, including from financial institutions that settle transactions on them every second”

Is this all smoke and mirrors? Possibly, it’s difficult to know how much of this information is genuine and if so how much is actually being planned. If Russia succeeded in cutting vital cables then this would lead to a dramatic set of circumstances. One thing to bare in mind is that Putin quite likes the idea of censorship and could be looking at cutting Russia off from outside influences. What we do know is countries, for example Russia and China, have a vested interest in disrupting countries such as the US, but having said that, the US and others also have well-documented interests in intercepting gigantic amounts of data from other countries. It’s the same practice in a different pair of shoes, from both World Wars, the Cold War to modern-day cyber spying, countries want others data and will plot while both sides remain unsure of the final outcome.

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US Navy Testing Electromagnetic Catapults to Help Launch Aircraft from Carriers

Aircraft carriers have been equipped with steam-powered catapults from the very start in order to help launch fighters and bombers and get them airborne quick. However, this old-fashioned technology seems to be a bit too old for the Navy to use it on newer multi-million aircraft.

As an alternative, the US Navy is now looking to replace its technology with an Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS). The technology is currently being tested aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford and uses bursts of electromagnetic energy to launch planes much more smoothly and efficiently compared to the steam catapults.

While aircraft carriers are one of the biggest ships found on the sea, they are still not big enough for aircraft to generate enough lift before they reach the end of the ship. This is why they required some auxiliary help, such as the steam catapults, to generate that extra lift force to get them into the air.

However, steam catapults come with some drawbacks. The old technology is said to take up a lot of space and weigh in at 1,300 lbs. The systems are said to take a long time to recharge and after each launch, the launch itself is said to be abrupt. This means that there is no smooth acceleration for a steam piston, putting a lot of wear on the aircraft each time it launches.

Steam catapults are also said to use more power than the EMALS system, which is rather surprising. The switch to EMALS is said to bring smoother acceleration, improved reliability and a more efficient design.

Thank you Geek for providing us with this information

Virtual Space Battle Worth $300,000 Erupted In Eve Online, All Due To An Unpaid Bill

It is said that EVE Online had the most colossal battle, and the most expensive one, which all started because one alliance forgot to pay the most common thing we all have to face in life, namely a bill. The N3 coalition failed to make a hugely important system, allowing other alliances to attempt complete takeover, leading to all hell breaking loose and losing an estimate of $300,000 in the process.

“An alliance in the N3 coalition missed a bill payment for the system where Pandemic Legion is staging and storing their fleets. This missed bill caused sovereignty to drop across the system leaving the station vulnerable to capture. Seizing the opportunity, the CFC (Goonswarm Federation, Razor Alliance, Black Legion and the Initiative) and Russian Coalition (Solar Fleet, Darkness of Despair and Against ALL Authorities) captured the station.” CCP explained in an e-mail.

N3 and Pandemic responded in force, with more firepower, then CFC and Rus responded as well with even more force. And so on, until the whole thing escalated beyond the point of no return. In the process, the various factions involved lost a total of around 70 titans, and given that titans are massive god ships, as they describe them “the blue whales to everyone else’s guppies”, which cost somewhere in the area of $3,000 a ship, losses were huge. With another 4,000 ships tossed into space’s deadliest rave, it all adds up to approximately $284,500, and numbers are still rising.

It ended with N3 and Pandemic losing 40-50 titans while CFC, Rus, and co managed a slightly less catastrophic 20-25. CFC won, but obviously not without some serious damage taken as well.

Thank you Rock, Paper, Shotgun for providing us with this information

Not Satisfied With Google Glass? Try Google Frames On You Own Personal Glasses

Google Glass had its fair share of ups and downs, with its announcement of features and specs, to getting fined and arrested for using them in the wrong place at the wrong time. But now Google has also delivered on its promise to release a frame version of the popular gadget, priced at $225.

The frames are reported to be separate from the Glass, which costs roughly $1500, a steep price for a mainstream style of Explorer shades. But Google promised that it will release a frame version, a key requirement set by Google, before the product hits the retail shelves. There are reportedly four versions of Google Frame devices and are mainly dedicated to people who need prescription glasses and therefore cannot use the Explorer edition. However, they have also set up some pretty neat ‘geeky’ non-prescription lenses versions of their own.

Google is reportedly naming the frame collection “Titanium collection”, having being designed by Google rather than a third-party contractor. The frames are made of titanium, hence the naming, having a limited style ranging from thin to light weight. However, they are described as being ‘evocative’ by lead Glass designer, Isabelle Olsson.

“When you walk into a glasses store they have thousands of styles,” Isabelle says. “When you start to categorize them you realize that there are only about six to eight styles that people wear.” she added.

Don’t confuse the Google Frame as being a different product, they are still in the same category as Google Glass, being dubbed as “a new accessory to the technology”. The four frames are available in a choice of eight colors, including the original palette of Charcoal, Cotton, Shale, Sky, and Tangerine, and new arrivals Classic and Edge. Google says that the new frames and colors now provide more than 40 different style combinations for would-be Glass owners.


Thank you The Verge and TheNextWeb for providing us with this information
Images and video courtesy of TheNextWeb

U.S. Navy Testing Oculus Rift & Other 3D Tech

New research from the Office of Navel Research is looking for what ship controls might look like in the not too distant future. Project BlueShark is currently testing out the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset which allows the captain / pilot of a craft to look around their environment and view objects relative to his position, something that just isn’t possible on a flat display.

Even the most modern of Navy vessels such as the stunning USS Zumwalt are limited to 2D displays and their are many obvious benefits to monitoring radar and other assets at sea with the added depth, given that you can have aircraft above, ships on the surface and submarines and other objects below the surface, being able to differentiate the depth and distant at a glance can be the difference between life and death.

Using a virtual avatar sat on top of a virtual vessel, John Moor of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory explores a ship using a touch interface, tracking hardware and an Oculus Rift, one can easily imaging the technology being hooked up to real time 3D cameras positioned around the ship, or even on drones, giving the crew a big tactical advantage.

Thank you Popsci for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Popsci.