Daring the world's robot builders and visionaries to design autonomous ground vehicles that could traverse the treacherous terrain of the Mojave Desert was not enough for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Always on the lookout for new ways to solve persistent problems, it is now taking its quest to the streets-the city streets, that is. Dubbing its latest competition Urban Challenge, the agency is enticing the mechanically inclined dreamers of the world with substantial cash awards to develop a driverless vehicle that can master the roads of a metropolis.
Conversations with computers are usually pretty one-sided: Users may yell obscenities; cursors continue to blink innocuously. But a collaborative effort between the military and industry may one day replace this one-way, futile discourse with systems that understand the user's cognitive state and then respond accordingly. The implications of this capability reach beyond ensuring that warfighters are primed to receive critical information. It could prove to be instrumental to inventing ways of designing new systems and improving military training.
A U.S. Army organization has found a way to move badly needed technologies and capabilities to soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is adapting existing products such as leaf blowers to meet vital requirements in the field, and it is inserting technologies such as advanced sensors directly from military and commercial laboratories to accelerate the evolution of combat capabilities.
The large hexagonal building's Tidewater architecture blends well with its placid Hampton Roads surroundings. Indeed, this bucolic Virginia setting belies the beehive of combat-related activity inside-experiments that are profoundly transforming the way this nation fights wars and protects its citizens.
If his eyesight had not failed him, Scott Dixon Smith might never have embarked on a career in technology, let alone one supplying visualization software to corporations and federal agencies. In fact, even before he entered college on a tennis scholarship, Smith already had charted a completely different course.
The U.S. Army is marshalling the forces of supercomputers and superanalysts in an effort to merge diverse battlefield intelligence data into knowledge for commanders. The intention is to establish a technology-based means of fusing vast amounts of sensor data into effective information without magnifying the inescapable errors that creep into data at various stages.
Virtually any device employing semiconductor technology soon may be able to communicate with its electronic siblings, cousins and even distant relatives. Research underway at an engineering institute, supported by private industry funding, aims to empower electronic components and everyday hardware to communicate with one another during the course of routine operations.
Smart mobile mines, underwater attack trumpets and an artificial dog's nose are some of the products that may emerge from a newly reorganized defense research office. The reorganization reflects a growing interdependence among various electronics technologies, according to defense officials.
The 2020 citizen returns home from an afternoon of outdoor recreation to resume work. Recognizing him as he strides up the walkway to his door, his house's computers unlock the door and activate hallway lighting systems. As he walks through the house, environmental controls that are sensitive to his presence switch lights on and off and adjust each room's temperature. Similarly, his intelligent clothing loosens and thins out for greater body heat dispersal as he cools down from exertion.
Revolutionary changes are taking place in military tactical equipment that promise to eliminate many of today's interoperability issues. A next-generation system that is backward compatible with legacy systems as well as capable of hosting new advanced waveforms could dramatically enhance communications among military units and resolve many of the vexing issues that have plagued past military operations.