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SIGNAL Online Exclusive

RoboRoaches to the Rescue

October 21, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Swarms of cyborg cockroaches may one day aid in search and rescue, military reconnaissance and an array of other missions.

Madagascar hissing cockroaches are about to get a little bit creepier—but it's for a good cause. Research funded by the National Science Foundation could lead to swarms of the insects being used for a variety of missions, including search and rescue in collapsed buildings, military reconnaissance or hazardous chemical detection.

Scientists at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, have developed software that allows the bugs to map unknown environments based on the swarming instincts of cyborg insects, or biobots. The idea is to map areas without access to GPS navigational signals. “They are live insects, but what has been done to them is that there are small backpacks that ride right on top of them, and they have electrodes attached to their antennae and their abdomens,” explains Dr. Edgar Lobaton, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.

“Signals are sent to the electrodes, and that is what makes them stop or move forward or turn to the right or left,” he explains.

High Technology Comes to Army Vehicle Intercoms

October 10, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Army has begun introduction of a new vehicular intercom system designed to offer soldiers 21st century communications features inside a variety of vehicles. A recent milestone decision by the Army’s program executive officer for enterprise information systems (PEO EIS) gave the go-ahead for procurement of the Army-Navy/Vehicle Inter Communications 5 system, or AN/VIC-5.

Software Assists Signal Officers

September 30, 2013
By George I. Seffers

U.S. Army researchers are developing a software program that will provide signal corps officers will an improved common operating picture of the network, enhance the ability to manage the plethora of electronic systems popping up on the modern battlefield, advance information sharing capabilities and allow warfighters to make more informed and more timely decisions. In short, the system will assist in planning, building, monitoring and defending the network.

As the number of electronic devices on the modern battlefield rapidly expands, the job of the battalion and brigade signal officer, known as the S-6, grows increasingly complex. The S-6 oversees the deployment of all communications equipment. The communications officer is responsible for the supervision of all automated information systems, network management, computer network defense, electromagnetic spectrum operations and information assurance.

Sometimes, however, it is not possible for the communications officer to even know what devices, or how many, are connected to the network. And many factors, such as terrain, weather, technical difficulties and enemy activities, including jamming or cyber attacks, can disrupt the network. But the S-6 Associate software being developed at the Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center (CERDEC) will consolidate information on existing systems and simplify network monitoring. Among other benefits, S-6 Associate improves data sharing between systems used by the S-6 and the intelligence (S-2) and training and operations (S-3) functions.

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