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science and technology

Modular Robots Shimmy Past Conventional Automatons

January 2005
By Cheryl Lilie

Researchers are developing shape-shifting robots that can climb obstacles, drop down cliffs and fit into tunnels. Small, individual modules link to form a system that can take a multitude of shapes to travel over varied terrain. Two distinctly different designs could allow military and first responder personnel to reach past obstructions into previously inaccessible areas while remaining at a safe distance.

Small Systems, Big Business

January 2005
By Maryann Lawlor

The military may be moving toward the massive Global Information Grid, but interest also is growing in networks that feature lilliputian qualities. Research that began in the mid-1990s is starting to bear fruit in the form of networking nodes that are scarcely the size of a postage stamp. Sometimes referred to as "smart dust" or "motes," these miniature networking nodes can be integrated with a variety of sensors to then pass on the information that is gathered to the people who need it.

Switching at the Speed of Light

December 2004
By Maryann Lawlor

Researchers are taking optics to new levels by developing the architecture, components and prototype systems for all-optical packet routing that can send and receive up to 100 terabits of data every second. The research is based on the premise that photons can do more than just carry a signal from one point to another; they also can facilitate extremely high-speed switching.

Biometrics Makes Waves

December 2004
By Maryann Lawlor

It takes a lot of brains to develop new technologies, and one U.S. Navy project is capitalizing on another type of brainpower. Navy researchers are examining work conducted jointly by the New York University Medical School and Russia's Nizhny Novgorod State University and Institute for Applied Sciences that uses brain activity as the model for controlling movement in unmanned undersea vehicles. The advances culled from this research could support better designs for autonomous underwater vehicles that could hunt mines, deliver and retrieve sensors, track ship movement or gather plume samples.

Scientists Build Microdevices With Magnetic Manipulation

December 2004
By Robert K. Ackerman

Researchers at a national laboratory have discovered a way to construct microelectrical systems using magnetic fields to arrange internal structures. The technology already is opening the door to breakthroughs in sensor and magnetic identification systems, and yet-undiscovered capabilities such as realistic artificial limbs and more esoteric applications may lie on the horizon.

Research Lays The Foundation

December 2004
By Maryann Lawlor

A research and development organization originally created to boost economic development in North Carolina is now providing cutting-edge technologies to the U.S. Defense Department. Areas of exploration range from information assurance to sensors to ultrahigh-speed communications. Many of the projects will facilitate intelligence gathering and directly support warfighters.

Digital Dust Sweeps Away Traditional Networking

March 2001
By Sharon Berry

Advances in miniaturization, integration and energy management show that a complete wireless sensor/communication system can be merged into a package the size of a grain of sand and networked. Applications are far-reaching-from military sensor networks to industrial quality control.

Fluorescent Particles Illuminate New Dimensions In Optical Storage

May 2001
By Sharon Berry

What began accidentally could be the foundation for a revolutionary approach to optical data storage. By enhancing and controlling fluorescence exhibited by nanoparticles, scientists can rapidly switch the particle colors on and off, creating robust nanoscopic storage elements that can pack a large amount of data in a small amount of space.

Light and Radio Harmonized On One Channel

November 2004
By Henry S. Kenyon

An experimental hybrid technology that combines both laser and radio frequency communications into a single system may soon provide warfighters with robust, high-bandwidth data networks. Software protocols will allow nodes in these networks to switch automatically between the two transmission modes based on the type of message sent and on prevailing atmospheric conditions.

Signal Conversion Takes the Fast Track

January 2002
By John Lillington

A new digital signal processing technology originally developed for the commercial world now is being incorporated in military systems where it offers significant improvements over current techniques. Known as pipelined frequency transform, the architecture is a licensable intellectual property of cores, or engines, that can be included in programmable logic devices such as semiconductors or system-on-chip designs. Major defense application areas include advanced radar, signals intelligence, secure wireless communications and electronic warfare.


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