research and development

January 2003
By Henry S. Kenyon

Quantum imaging opens new paths for optical sensors, holography, cryptography.

The U.S. military may one day obtain detailed reconnaissance imagery with laser light that has never touched a target. By using two laser beams and taking advantage of a unique characteristic of quantum mechanics that permits one beam to mirror the state of its twin, researchers are developing low-power systems that can measure, or illuminate, objects across a variety of frequencies, yet generate detailed pictures in the visible spectrum.

July 2001
By Robert K. Ackerman

Autonomous vehicles are poised to change all aspects of military and civilian life.

The science-fiction image of robot warriors engaging in decisive battlefield conflicts may be closer to reality with the development of new robotic technologies. Researchers are sending autonomous vehicles up stairs, through fields and across a nation as they work toward mobile machines that can learn new behaviors while operating independently of human control.

July 2003
By Henry S. Kenyon

Navigation, mapping system free machines for independent, unattended commercial work.

A new generation of autonomous, problem-solving robots will soon be entering commercial service. Recent advances in computer processing power have allowed researchers to design prototype machines that can navigate in unfamiliar surroundings unassisted. Using a variety of sensors, the robot creates a constantly updated three-dimensional map as it goes through its routine. It is this self-navigation that is finally placing mobile robotic systems on the verge of commercial viability, scientists say.

July 2003
By Maryann Lawlor

Objectives change to meet a transforming military’s needs.

U.S. Defense Department science and technology investment is transcending the requirements model of the past in a shift from threat-based to capabilities-based thinking. While researchers are examining areas such as avionics, materials and nanotechnology, military leaders are exploring how cutting-edge developments can move more quickly from the laboratory to the field.

July 2003
By Sharon Berry

Scientific community collaborates on future systems that are resilient and highly adaptive.

Industry is focusing on how to reduce computer system complexity by modeling the human body’s autonomic nervous system. From servers to software, researchers are building all components of the infrastructure based on the same characteristics—regulation and protection of key functions without conscious involvement. Autonomic computers will make more decisions on their own and require less human intervention.

August 2003
By Maryann Lawlor

Nontraditional teams work to develop future autonomous vehicle capabilities.

The race is on for super-advanced, beyond-next-generation technologies. Vying for a cash prize of $1 million, teams of engineers, software developers and car enthusiasts are taking on the challenge to create totally autonomous robotic ground vehicles that can travel from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on a designated course within a specified amount of time. The competition is part of a new program the military has developed to tap into the ingenuity of inventors throughout the United States who will design seemingly impossible capabilities that one day may be as commonplace in military operations as Predators.

May 2004
By Henry S. Kenyon


The U.S. Navy’s Center for Concept Visualization (CCV) uses three-dimensional imaging to create a virtual environment for viewing hydrodynamic and hydroacoustic phenomena.

June 2003
By Henry S. Kenyon

Semantic web technology offers smarter, more efficient data searches, information sharing.

U.S. Defense Department researchers are developing software that may be capable of accurately understanding the nuances of human language. The technology promises to greatly enhance a spectrum of computer-based systems—from commercial Web browsers and personal virtual assistants to advanced intelligence gathering and command and control systems.

November 15, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

A revolution quietly erupted in October. On the University of Chicago campus, more than 80 innovators came together to discuss their ideas about how to solve some of the military’s most vexing problems. Not blind to the chain-of-command bureaucracy in which they operate, these pragmatic dreamers passionately moved forward in spite of it, because the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum (DEF) conference provided a place for in-person networking and commiserating, brainstorming and bracing one another up.