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Army Technologies

Army Researchers Plotting Upgrades to 3-D Mapping Technology

May 29, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

U.S. Army researchers improved on the service’s 3-D terrain mapping system by reducing the system’s weight by 250 pounds and making the BuckEye operational from drones. Now they are developing a capability allowing the system to collect data from higher altitudes, covering a larger swath of land and considerably improving the technology’s efficacy, Michael A. Harper, director of the Warfighter Support Directorate at the U.S. Army Geospatial Center, says.

The High Resolution 3-D Terrain Data system is a multipurpose platform supporting requirements for collection of unclassified geospatial data for terrain mapping. BuckEye operates on manned and unmanned aircraft and consists of a 60-megapixel color camera working in conjunction with the Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) system to provide the high-resolution data.

“We spent some research and development dollars on trying to reduce the size and weight … Traditionally, it’s 350 pounds, but we significantly reduced it to a 100-pound payload to go into an unmanned aerial system,” Harper says, adding that troops operate two BuckEye unmanned aerial systems now in Afghanistan.

Army engineers too are working with industry to improve the capability tenfold. Currently, the BuckEye system scans and collects data from about 100 square kilometers per four-hour mission. “With BuckEye 2, which is what we refer to the prototype as, we’ll collect about 1,000 square kilometers in that same time period. By increasing the power of the laser, you can fly from a higher altitude, and when you go to a higher altitude, it improves your swath of the ground,” says Harper, who declined to name the company collaborating with Army researchers until the prototype and testing are complete sometime this fall.

Rifleman Radio Approaches Full Rate Production

May 22, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Army has released a draft request for proposals to procure additional Rifleman Radios, moving the system toward full rate production.

Pockets of Resistance Threaten Robotics Funding

May 22, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Defense Department is failing to invest in game-changing technology that could increase efficiencies and save lives, according to a just-released report from the Center for a New American Security, which also recommends funding more battlefield drones.

Military Evaluates Future Cyberforce

June 1, 2014
By Rita Boland

Cybersecurity remains a priority for the U.S. Defense Department, with officials protecting resources for it in the face of overall budget constraints. Guidance from the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 directs a mission analysis of cybercapabilities not only in the active military, but also across partners, to help forces maintain their edge in protecting the nation.

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.

Manportable Radio System Combines Night Sight and Sound

April 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

Warfighters on foot equipped with night vision systems now can give their commanders a real-time glimpse of what they’re seeing in the field. A new system that combines a portable radio with night vision goggles allows the optical imagery to be captured and sent across the same radio channels used for voice and data communications.

Each piece of hardware—the portable radio and the night vision system—is in service with the armed forces of several countries around the world. Engineers basically combined the two functions to produce a single system that allows commanders to remotely view a night scene from the warfighter’s eye view accompanied with geolocation information.

Known as the Individual Soldier System (ISS) and manufactured by Exelis Incorporated, the new system combines a software suite with existing hardware. These three major subsystems generate a two-way imaging capability that also allows the warfighter to view imagery relayed by headquarters.

The i-Aware Tactical Mobility Night Vision Goggle (TM-NVG) optical system features an overlay display that enables mobility information to be viewed by its wearer. It weighs less than 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) and can run on one lithium AA battery. An intensified camera inside the goggle set allows command and control personnel to view live imagery from the field.

The company’s SpearNet team member radio serves as the transmission device for the TM-NVG. The 1.5-pound radio operates in the 1.2-1.4 gigahertz band, and it can network with satellite communications and long-range radio systems. Information from the TM-NVG system can be sent across the SpearNet self-healing mesh network, which in turn can display visual tactical information such as maps and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) video.

Customs and Border Protection Not Interested in Mobility for Mobility's Sake

March 10, 2014
George I. Seffers

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency is only interested in mobile communication if it allows the agency to perform functions it could not perform otherwise, Mark Borkowski, component acquisition executive and assistant commissioner with the CBP Office of Technology Innovation and Acquisition, told the audience at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday.

NIE Successes for Small Businesses

February 28, 2014
By Rita Boland

As the U.S. Army’s Network Integration Evaluation continues to build on its positives and address its challenges, progress is being made in acquiring more capability from small business through efforts at the event.

Question: Should Industry Ignore the Joint Information Environment (JIE)?

March 1, 2014
By Al Mink

It’s impossible these days to attend a U.S. Defense Department information technology presentation without repeated mentions of the Joint Information Environment (JIE). But industry representatives often ask, “What does JIE mean to me?” I did some digging into the environment—leveraging the expertise of the AFCEA Technology Committee, discussions with several senior defense information technology leaders and insights from colleagues at my firm who participated in JIE Increment 1 in Europe.

Military leaders emphasize that the JIE is not a funded program. However, industry would be wrong to relegate the environment to the graveyard of other unfunded initiatives. The JIE affects industry in three areas: subject matter expertise (SME), directly related modernization and non-JIE modernization.

Already, the military has tapped industry for SME support. For example, both the department’s chief information officer and the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) have obtained industry expertise through task orders containing JIE scope. As the JIE gains momentum, government organizations increasingly will require SME related to the JIE.

Partnership Promises to Prevent Cloud Computing Problems

March 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Software developed by university researchers accurately predicts cloud computing issues before they occur, enhancing reliability; cutting costs; potentially improving cybersecurity; and saving lives on the battlefield.

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