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January 18, 2011
By George I. Seffers, SIGNAL Connections
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Pill Bot

 
The pharmacy staff at Kadena Air Base in Japan recently started working with a robot designed to count medication for prescriptions. The PharmASSIST ROBOTx stores the counted medications until electronic prescriptions are received from doctors. Then, using bar code scanning checks, it ensures patients receive the correct medication. The machine can produce up to 240 prescriptions per hour; fill prescriptions every 15 seconds; and count medications simultaneously. The Kadena Air Base pharmacy fills an average of about 400 prescriptions every day. The robot cuts the average wait time for customers from 30 minutes to 20, provides extra layers of safety, creates a more efficient work environment and frees up staff members to conduct other duties.

Mini Threat Sniffers

Researchers at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania are integrating a tiny chemical sniffing device onto robotic platforms. Orion is a system-on-a-chip chromatograph no larger than a dime. The miniature device will be capable of sniffing out chemical agents and specifically identifying the threat. Researchers believe the device will one day detect people, explosives, or chemical and biological agents. Furthermore, it could be integrated into a soldier’s clothing or onto tiny autonomous robots, and it also could add to homeland security by operating on commercial airlines, subways and buses. Orion builds upon the Mercury chromatograph system, developed by the University of Michigan. Orion has been integrated onto a University of Pennsylvania-developed Scarab robotic platform.

Tiny Transponder

The European Aviation Safety Agency certified Cassidian’s newly developed LTR 400 family of transponders to the latest standards, including both civil and military applications. Billed by Cassidian as the world’s smallest and lightest transponder, the 2.8-kilogram unit operates to the latest civilian air traffic control standardMode S Enhanced Surveillance. Together with the encryption and decryption computers from Cassidian, it can also be used in all currently widespread military modes. Due to its low weight, the LTR 400-A is particularly suitable for use on board helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles and has already been ordered to equip Eurocopter’s EC 635 helicopter.

Law Enforcement Data Connection

A newly developed interface between the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s (NCIS) Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LInX) and i2’s COPLINK creates vital information sharing capabilities between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Northrop Grumman, i2 and the NCIS are conducting a pilot program with Alaska set to begin in early 2011. Once the connection is live, agencies in Alaska that use COPLINK and agencies in Washington and Oregon that use LInX will have access to both resources. Developed by Northrop Grumman, LInX enhances information sharing in areas of strategic importance to the U.S. Navy and Defense Department, including Washington state, Oregon, Alaska, Virginia, Florida, Georgia, the Gulf Coast region, the National Capital region, North Carolina, New Mexico and southern California. Based on results of the pilot, the new capability could be extended to other jurisdictions throughout the country that use COPLINK and/or LInX.