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Robotics

Era of Change for 
Unmanned Systems

November 1, 2012
By George I. Seffers

The next five years will be as exciting as the last decade--but in a different way.

Unmanned vehicles will undergo an array of changes in the coming years brought about by the war in Afghanistan winding down, budgets tightening and the national strategy shifting toward the Asia-Pacific region. Adjustments may include the retirement of some unmanned air systems, a stronger focus on refining existing unmanned planes rather than fielding new ones and increased research and development of land and maritime technologies.

The U.S. military will not be fielding many new unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the current war, but the situation is not all gloom and doom, says Dyke Weatherington, director, Unmanned Warfare and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Strategic and Tactical Systems in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. “The last 10 years have been very dynamic. We’ve seen rapid growth and huge increases in force structure. My guess is that the next five years will be equally dynamic in a different way. There’s huge potential for continued capability increases in ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] for the warfighter. I just think that’s going to look a little different than it has in the last 10 years.”

For the most part, that means the U.S. military will take capabilities it already has for UAVs and refine those as much as possible. Improvements could include fielding new capabilities to existing platforms, enhancing current payloads or reducing ownership costs, he explains.

Army Taps Industry and Academia to Advance Robotics

October 5, 2012
By Max Cacas

 

 

 

Robotic Device Lends Troops a Hand

August 17, 2012

A new robotic hand, developed by Sandia National Laboratories, mimics the capabilities of a human hand and could help disarm improvised explosive devices.

Boston Dynamics to Build Humanoid Robots for DARPA

August 15, 2012
By George Seffers

Boston Dynamics Incorporated, Waltham, Massachusetts, is being awarded a $10,882,438 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. The contractor will develop and build a set of identical humanoid robot systems for use by performers in both phases of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Robotics Challenge Program. This effort will develop robotic platforms consisting of two legs, a torso, on board computing, two arms with hands, and a sensor head. The robots to be delivered to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will be distributed to the top software development teams based on the results of the Virtual Disaster Challenge of the Robotics Challenge program. The contractor will also provide in-the-field support and as-required maintenance to the delivered systems. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is the contracting activity.

Pushing Robots Toward Autonomy

October 5, 2011

U.S. Army researchers have enhanced the Talon robot with an array of technologies to make the system more autonomous. Upgrades include inertial navigation and Global Positioning System technologies, a 306-degree camera system and laser radar, upgraded power distribution boards, an e-stop system, Ethernet radios, control computers and software for running the system.

Microrobots Could Have Mega Impacts

September 12, 2011

Researchers from Argonne National Laboratory have discovered methods to make teensy robots perform an array of tasks on command.

Robots Up in Arms

May 20, 2011
By Rachel Eisenhower

Three U.S. Army units are preparing to go to war with robots armed, for now, with nonlethal weapons.

"We Have the Technology"-Prostheses Put Troops Back in Action

April 8, 2011
By Beverly Schaeffer

Injured warfighters, formerly relegated to desk jobs or early retirement, now may have a new lease on military life. Advanced prosthetics give these brave troops the option of returning to active service-a nearly foreign concept in previous wars.

NASA AWARDS CONTRACT MODIFICATION TO L-3

February 9, 2011
By George Seffers

NASA has signed a contract modification increasing the not-to-exceed value of a support contract with L-3 Services of Fairfax, Virginia, by $49 million, bringing the total value of the contract to $98 million. The contract provides simulation and software technology support to Johnson Space Center's Software, Robotics and Simulation Division in the fields of design, development, testing and operations of intelligent systems, robotic systems, spacecraft flight software systems and real-time simulation systems. This work supports the development and operations of the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs, the Orion project, the Mission Operations Directorate training systems project and advanced programs for exploration.

NASA Awards In-Space Robotics Servicing Contract to Lockheed Martin

January 7, 2011
By George Seffers

NASA has awarded a sole-source contract to Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Greenbelt, Maryland, for Systems Engineering for In-Space Servicing. This 18-month contract has a value of $31 million. Lockheed Martin will provide systems and discipline engineering support to develop and execute two demonstrations to test and verify new robotic servicing capabilities using the Dextre robot aboard the International Space Station. The Canadian Space Agency's Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, or Dextre, is a two-armed robotic system designed to perform intricate maintenance and servicing tasks, which previously would have required spacewalks.

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