Search:  

 Blog     e-Newsletter       Resource Library      Directories      Webinars
AFCEA logo
 

research and development

Defense Strives to Find Breakthrough Technological Advantages

July 1, 2014
By Rita Boland

Officials across the U.S. Defense Department are pushing to identify and develop the disruptive technologies that will offer orders-of-magnitude advantages on the battlefield. But while bringing such capabilities to fruition is difficult, even determining what qualifies as disruptive represents a challenge. As personnel wrestle with definitions, they are forging ahead with their creative ideas.

U.S. Army Researchers Beam Up Data

June 10, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Scientists at the U.S. Army's Research Laboratory have successfully demonstrated information teleportation capabilities in the laboratory using entangled photons.

NATO Testing Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Capabilities

May 16, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Representatives from the U.S. Army and Air Force, along with 17 NATO nations and three partner nations, will participate in a joint reconnaissance trial in Norway this month to test and evaluate intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance concepts and technologies.

U.S. Navy Evaluates Color-Coded Explosive Detection Kits

May 9, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Navy has evaluated color-coded chemical detection technology known as colorimetric explosive detection kits, the service recently announced.

Scientists Create Thermal-Imaging Lenses From Waste Sulfur

May 9, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

One man’s trash really can be another man’s treasure. Professors at the University of Arizona (UA) recently transformed sulfur waste from refining fossil fuels into moldable, infrared-capable plastic lenses—an incredibly inexpensive and lightweight component that can be used for night-vision goggles among other uses.

The discovery could have huge positive implications for the U.S. military, which has already expressed interest in the patent-pending polymer, Robert A. Norwood, professor of optical sciences at UA, says.

The polymer can be molded into any arbitrary shape needed, opening up a new range of options for military developers seeking alternatives to expensive and heavier night-vision goggles, Norwood says. Other military applications on a short list include thermal imaging, missile sites and spectroscopic threat detection, he adds.

These lenses could be used for any function or mission that involves heat detection and infrared light, from cameras to night-vision goggles or surveillance systems.

Norwood and his colleague Jeffrey Pyun, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UA who was first to start experimenting with sulfur-based polymers, placed the new polymer in a sort of window and snapped a photo of a man standing on the other side. “We could see the heat coming off the body,” Norwood says. “It was pretty exciting to see that.”

The professors discovered the sulfur-based lenses are transparent to mid-range infrared, between 3 to 8 microns. And the lenses have “high optical” or focusing power, which means they can be thin—and thus lightweight—to focus on nearby objects.

The UA scientists' next step involves drumming up industry and Defense Department talk and funding as they continue their research and work to improve the product. “We really would like to have now a focused program on further development of these materials,” Norwood says.

Labs Take Closer Look at Materials

May 5, 2014
By Maryann Lawlor

Sandia National Laboratories' Predicting Performance Margins project is working on improving the understanding of material science.

Army Research Laboratory Opens Campus to Outside Researchers

May 2, 2014
George I. Seffers

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) will open spaces on its campus for local researchers from academia, industry and other government agencies to foster in-person interactions for deeper insight into the service's technological challenges.

Budget Problems Impact Science and Technology Personnel as Much as Programs

April 21, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Gadgets and gizmos are not the only things beset by the U.S. Defense Department’s continued battle with shrinking budget dollars. While some projects may be delayed, and others even derailed, the civilian work force “is now showing the early signs of stress,” Alan Shaffer, acting assistant defense secretary for research and engineering, recently warned Congress.

Furloughs, the government shutdown and sequestration, and decreasing budgets have an adverse impact on the 100,000 personnel that make up the Defense Department’s science and technology (S&T) work force.

“Combined with summer furloughs triggered by sequestration, FY13 presented unique challenges to a work force that had grown for the previous three years to meet the department’s increasing demand for technical and engineering talent to lead the development of increasingly sophisticated weapon systems,” spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea says.

Young workers leave the federal government for better-paying, and more stable, jobs in the civilian sector, and those who stay contribute to a faintly aging civilian work force.

“We saw a number of young scientists and engineers leave in 2013, early in their career. In conducting exit interviews, our laboratory directors reported that these young workers consistently cited travel and conference restrictions, as well as perceived instability of a long-term career, as motivating factors for their departure,” Elzea says.

The average age of scientists went from 45.6 years to 45.7 years, and for engineers from 43.2 years to 43.9 years. “Although the change seems minimal over the past two years, it reverses the trend over the past decade, when we had been driving the average age down,” she says.

Basic Research Receives Funding Boost

April 17, 2014
By Maryann Lawlor

The U.S. Defense Department will award $167 million in research funding to academic institutions as part of the department’s Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI). During the next five years, 24 awards will be issued through the program to support multidisciplinary basic research, which will be conducted by teams of investigators that intersect more than one traditional science and engineering discipline.

Robots Learn With Heads in the Cloud

May 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Researchers working on multiple projects in Europe and the United States are using cloud computing to teach robotic systems to perform a multitude of tasks ranging from household chores to serving hospital patients and flipping pancakes. The research, which one day could be applied to robotic systems used for national defense, homeland security or medical uses, lowers costs while allowing robots to learn more quickly, share information and better cooperate with one another.

Cloud robotics is an emerging research field rooted in cloud computing, cloud storage and other technologies centered around the benefits of converged infrastructure and shared services, according to researchers with the recently completed RoboEarth project, which was funded primarily by the European Commission. Cloud robotics allows robots to benefit from the powerful computational, storage and communications resources of modern data centers. In addition, it lowers costs for maintenance and updates and reduces dependence on custom middleware.

Researchers with the RoboEarth project envision an Internet for robots that will allow systems to share information and learn from each other about their behavior and their environment, paving the way for rapid advances in machine cognition and behavior and, ultimately, for more subtle and sophisticated human-machine interaction.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - research and development