Showing posts with label military technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label military technology. Show all posts

Bomb 'Bots Vs. Bad Guys: How Explosives And Xbox Controllers Can Take Down Terrorists

We may joke a lot about the impending horrors of how robots are coming for our jobs, but many times, for the most part, these replacements ultimately will bode well for the labors of the industrial or commercial world.  More importantly, at the top of the line, in each of these instances, the robots are being deployed by human beings capable of critical thinking and (theoretically) feeling emotions.  Now, we will find ourselves being increasingly placed in difficult situations where there are strong arguments both for and against the usage of robots in delicate human-induced situations…

A bomb robot in Arlington, TX, during the 2011 Super Bowl.
Will more such machines quell our quandaries?
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Hear Hear! Army's New In-Ear Device Augments Soft Sounds; Levels Out Loud Ones

It's a hard thing to say that warfare has "improved" over the years, but at least the technology that keeps our soldiers safer and more prone to survival has certainly made leaps and bounds.  From 3-D printing new limbs for amputation patients to sending in drones for tough tasks, we're able to keep more soldiers alive to fight another day.  Now, we can offer something of a superpower to help solve a major sensory issue of wartime...

When you need all of your senses sharp, this makes perfect sense.
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Reforestation Is The Bomb: Retrofitted Military Cargo Planes Help Plant Trees

Earth needs trees, but humans and our pesky usurpation keep cutting them down.  But what if we could use that incessant drive to conquer as a force for good forestry?  Taking over land is always a major objective of warfare, so why not use a weapon of war to help improve vast swaths of land?

Botany has never looked so badass.
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World Peace / Space Pieces: Russia Could Convert Missiles To Destroy Asteroid Threats

Remember that whole Cold War thing between the US and Russia, with all the missiles and arming up and whatnot?  Yeah, all those spare, fortunately-unused weapons didn't exactly vanish.  However, scientists in Russia are working to put them to another effective (if hopefully unnecessary) purpose...

Because pointing these at the sky is still better than pointing them at America.
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On The Mooove: Beef Tallow Biofuel Helps Propel Navy Ships

The U.S. Navy is the mightiest fleet in the world, but with the tides turning on fossil fuels, how will they expect to stay sustainable in the 21st century?  The answer is fat.  Gallons and gallons of it.

It's like how you eat burgers for fuel...
except mixed with petroleum and multiplied by a warship.
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That Time We Almost Built A Death Star

If you've been following this blog for a while, you know that we're fans of crazy weapons (especially on vehicles, from trucks to planes), stuck on "Star Wars", and definitely devoted to all sorts of stuff in space.  However, the confluence of all three is something truly spectacular...had it ever been invented...

This, except huge, and in space.  But someone had a bad feeling about it...

Eyes In The Sky That Pry Via Wifi: Malware-Injecting Drones Swoop In To Spy

Hackers, in an ever-escalating bid to stymie security, have teamed up with an arm of one of the world's leading aerospace companies to create computer-death from above...

As usual, we're sure this is all to "protect your freedom"...
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No Artificial-Intelligence Armies, Implore Already-Intelligent Humans

Well, here we are, citizens of the future.  Our planet's greatest minds have had to band together and openly, prominently state that artificial intelligence shouldn't be used for warfare.  That's where we're at.

Eventually, we'd make "The Terminator" look like a toy.
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Hit The Lights: New Electromagnetic Pulse Weapon Blackens, Sans Bombs

Warfare can take many guises, and not all of them need to be abundantly destructive.  Now, thanks to Boeing, a new electromagnetic pulse weapon will provide our military with the capacity to turn an enemy's lights out, rather than knocking their lights out.

Darkness falls: a new CHAMP missile strikes the grid.
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Secret Space Plane Mission REVEALED! (Sorry, No Aliens Involved...Yet.)

Of all the cool top-secret schwag that the United States government keeps under wraps, it's the ones we occasionally get glimpses or hints of that seem to be the most intriguing (we're looking at you, SR-71 Blackbird.)  Since "top secret" generally means stuff gets hidden, it's often only the reports of funky, flagrant aircraft that allow for speculation on sweet secrets.  However, now the US has allowed at least a little bit of insight into the operations of one of its coolest "secrets" in space...

The secret is out (well, up):  the X-37B preps for launch.
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We've Had An Orbiting Nuke In Space For 50 Years. Deal With It.

Uh...please don't freak out about this?

No seriously, promise you won't be weird about it?

Okay.  Happy 50th birthday to our orbiting nuclear reactor.

It's weird how 1960s ads make everything seem fun.
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Will The Force(field) Be With Us? Boeing Patents An Electromagnetic Shield

Shields have been the companion to swords since time immemorial...across numerous fields of war and peace, many will claim that the best offense is a good defense.  Now, Boeing has thrown down (and up, and sideways) on this notion, and patented an electromagnetic force field.

This is part of the actual patent.  How awesome is that?
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Planes On The Brain: Non-Aviatrix "Flies" An F-35 Simulator Thanks To Neural Signalling

Ever have one of those dreams where you're flying?  What if you could do the next best thing in real life and control a plane with your mind?  Now, the U.S. military has designed a way to make this possible...

Forget flying by the seat of your you can fly by the seat of your mind!
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Truck + Helo = Multicopter!

Truck and helicopter:  two great methods of transport that, for the first time, can be even greater - together.  That's the idea behind the Black Knight Transformer, a new aircraft/vehicle designed by Advanced Tactical Systems, Inc.

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According to, the Black Knight is a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) "multicopter", which began development in 2010 and completed successful flight tests in March of 2014.  The largest multicopter in the world, the Transformer is capable of lifting off with 4,400 lbs of cargo.  This is a major benefit to military investors who are interested in having adaptable means of transporting wounded troops to safety from battle zones, and the Transformer has both the power and dexterity to accomplish exactly this.

With the flight tests proving its ability to fly autonomously, the Transformer could not only rescue troops without endangering human pilots, but could also make large cargo deliveries to embattled areas.  However, daring pilots can still take the controls and fly the Transformer manually, all while knowing they're in a well-designed craft.  According to Advanced Tactics' website, the U.S. Army Aeroflightdynamics Directorate and NASA Ames contributed research to the Transformer's development.

Advanced Tactics indeed.
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Plans are already in motion to make the Transformer technology applicable on a smaller scale, such as the Panther two-man unit that could fit inside a larger aircraft (like an Osprey) for easier deployments in faraway areas.  Requiring minimal training to fly, the Panther could transport two special operations soldiers (plus their gear) quickly and with multi-terrain adaptability.

As for specs, the Transformer tops off at 70 m.p.h., and can fly up to 10,000 ft.  Oh, and one more totally awesome feature:  the ground drivetrain can be removed and replaced with a boat hull, should a mission demand it.  So basically, our soldiers are going to be a little safer ANYWHERE thanks to the Transformer.  Ramble (and float, and fly) on!

"It's a bird!  It's a plane!  It's a truck!  It's a Transformer!"
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A Shot In The Dark, Or Right On The Mark? DARPA Invents Bullets That Can Hunt You Down

It worked for missiles, and now, it's coming to a .50 caliber...hopefully not anywhere you're on the receiving end of.

According to Business Insider, the United States' Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has created a bullet that is able to change its own path in flight, like a Super Mario villain come to life.  This would not just account for windage and other riflery considerations, but also could be made to seek out a specific target that has moved or taken cover.

Next up:  military-grade raccoon suits?
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What?  How?  The bullets use optical sensors embedded in their nosecones, which use in-flight information to determine whether their onboard electronically-operated fins should be deployed to change the projectile's course.

Known as EXACTO, for “Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordinance”, the project's mission will be “developing more accurate military artillery that will enable greater firing range, minimize the time required to engage with targets, and also help reduce missed shots that can give away the troops’ location.”

That's no excuse to slack on your marksmanship, though.  These new bullets should work well for snipers, but you never know when some good old fashioned-style targeting skills will come to your aid.

Curse the thought of losing any of your high-stakes games of Rifle-Tac-Toe.
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Shock And Awe: Robot Electric Eels To Protect Our Shores?

Oceans are notoriously hard to keep secure from invading threats, particularly those that lurk in the deep.  Now, a new development in robotics may help keep our coasts safe thanks to some electric-eel-style swimming 'bots.

According to Science Daily, the Anguilliform robotic fish is a droid that dives deep and reports back if it spots any enemies.  Designed specifically to venture to more intense depths than a human is capable of, the eel-bots are unobtrusive and agile.  They could be trained to find and detonate undersea mines, and maybe even launch counteroffensives against enemy divers.

It doesn't look like your typical badass robot, but that is part of its camouflage.
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The current methodology of keeping our coasts safe to this degree involves attack dolphins (seriously.)  To avoid bringing possibly-unethical harm to the animals, the eel-bots make warfare a little more moral.  

The fish contains an artificial neural network which enables it to autonomously run via its oscillators and an amplitude modulator.  Prof. Jianxin Xu, one of the lead researchers and co-authors of the project, was pleased with the results, explaining, "We performed simulations and experiments on the robotic fish, equipped with a motion library to cope with different scenarios, and the results validate the effectiveness of the proposed controllers was able to swim forward and backward as predicted."

If you catch one of these while fishing, it's in everyone's best interests for you to throw it back.
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Could this robotic sushi really help protect us? It's no crazier than some of other ideas, and doesn't harm our humans or dolphins. Let's just hope the other members of the oceanic ecosystem don't think the undulating undersea eels look tasty.

The eel-bots better not get into a turf war with the attack dolphins.
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Laser Turrets: The (Extremely) Hot New War Plane Accessory

After war planes switched out manned guns in favor of missiles, the classic "gun turret" on fighting aircraft was expunged from the design.  Now, Lockheed Martin is making what's old new again, with an awesome twist:  the turrets are housing lasers.

As reported by, Lockheed Martin has modified a commercial jet to arm it with lasers, and eight successful flights have been logged with the aircraft already.  The lasers operate out of turrets capable of 360-degree rotation, which when put into action will use the directed-energy weapons to eradicate enemy missiles.

The official term for the all-around-awesome lasers is "Aero-adaptive Aero-optic Beam Control" - "ABC" for short. For nations that do not have the funds to construct and maintain war planes, anti-aircraft missiles have been the preferred choice for thwarting airborne attackers. Now, such offenses will be easily countered and fried to a crisp thanks to the Lockheed lasers.

Lockheed Martin GTO Ray Johnson was enthusiastic about the durability and usefulness of the lasers, telling Popular Science, "[Lasers] can operate with the electrical power that could be generated on an aircraft. You could certainly see it go on bomber-sized aircraft and as the technology develops and size/weight/power are reduced, our notion is to see it get to the point where it can go on fighter-sized aircraft."

Combined with Boeing's new truck-mounted lasers, it seems that war is going to have a blindingly bright future.

"Star Wars" warplane technology is no longer only in a galaxy far, far, away.

All-Weather Anti-Drone Laser Cannon. Yep.

It's called the HEL MD (High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator), and it's a truck-mounted laser cannon. The US Army has commissioned them from Boeing (spending $36 million over the last decade), and now, targets on land, sea, or air are in the sights of losing to lasers.

According to, the HEL MD system has "successfully engaged" drones and 60mm mortars, aka blew them the hell out of the sky. Tests were conducted at Florida's Eglin Air Force Base under cloudy and foggy conditions, making the weapon attractive for use in stormy naval situations.

The HEL MD currently uses a 10-kilowatt laser to scorch out its targets, although a more powerful beam will be used in future iterations. A “tactically significant power level” of 50 or 60 kilowatts will then be in force. Either way, the premise is simple: the laser's concentrated beam of light, when sighted on a target, soon turns into ever-expanding heat, disabling its target (possibly via a cool explosion, as "Star Wars" led us to believe.)

Quite awesomely, when mounted on a truck for mobility, the system requires only a driver and an operator with a laptop and Xbox controller to send up the lasery lightning. A telescope along with an infrared-based wide-angle camera helps to identify targets. The weapon is expected to be in development for several more years, so bust out your video games and get practicing...those enemy UAVs are in for a zapping.


Custom Camouflage: Octopus-Inspired Technology Will Help You Blend In...Or Not

In some social settings, have you ever just wanted to blend into the walls and disappear? Maybe this will soon be possible thanks to new changeable camouflage technology being developed at the University of Illinois. 

As the BBC reports, a thin grid of 1-mm cells is controlled by a temperature-sensitive colored dye that is able to adapt to its environment. Derived from observations of creatures like octopi and cuttlefish, who are able to easily change colors to disguise themselves in the ocean to avoid predators and attract prey, the technology based itself in part on the idea of the animals' layered skin. In the grid, the bottom layer uses photosensors to reflect the desired pattern to actuators in the middle layer, which then control the colored pigment in the top level to change color at precisely 47 degrees Celsius. Similarly, an octopus would have these actuators embedded in its muscle flesh to control their color-changing outer skin.

Though the work is being accomplished in America (led by senior author Professor John Roberts), the word of this project has jumped the pond and gathered attention. Professor Anne Neville, the Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies at the University of Leeds, called Professor Roberts' work "very innovative and very interesting," as well as noting it was operating at a "very high standard."

The technology is not fully developed yet, and some hindrances still exist. The dye is currently only working in black and white, but will eventually take on other hues as the technology develops. Another issue is a power source for the camo, which is currently fueled externally, but could likely benefit from an element of solar cells.

The project is based off of information gleaned from "a collaboration between experts in biology, materials, computing and electrical engineering," according to Professor Roberts, but has wide potential for architectural, military, and even fashion applications. One day, you could use the hues to make your shirt any color you wanted, or really stand out in a room by reflecting its most stark colors, like a real-life Paint eyedropper feature for fashion.

Or, for those who still treasure their privacy in the face of ever-encroaching surveillance, you could just practice vanishing...

Homeland Security has no idea who this guy is.

A Mule With Fuel: New Cargo Robot Aids Marine Missions

The United States Marines now have a whole new definition for the term "hauling ass." Their tests on a sturdy, cargo-toting robotic mule have been moving along successfully.

As reported by the BBC, the USMC is currently testing the new robo-creature during the Rim Of The Pacific (RIMPAC) international joint exercises in Oahu, Hawaii. The motorized mule is known as the "Legged Squad Support System (LS3)" but has been nicknamed "Cujo."  It operates by following a sensor strapped to a human operator's foot.

Created by Boston Dynamics as a corollary to their projects creating robotic dog-type critters, Cujo can carry 400 pounds of gear for missions up to 20 miles. According to, its attendant humans were impressed with its skills.

Marine Lance Cpl. Brandon Dieckmann said, "I was surprised how well it works. I thought it was going to be stumbling around and lose its footing, but it’s actually proven to be pretty reliable and pretty rugged...

"There are times when it is going to fall over, but most of the time it can self-right and get back up on its own. Even if it doesn’t, it can take one person to roll it back over. The way it is designed is that you can easily roll it back over.”

While Cujo is impressive, one wonders if they're trying to work their way up to full-sized mechanical battle elephants, like a futuristic Alexander The Great.

Kick ass!  The majestic LS3 mules romp in a pasture.