Technology

August 16, 2017
By Kimberly Underwood
Researchers at the Army Research Laboratory in Orlando are creating a virtual grenade launcher training platform that will allow for repeated virtual rounds before going out to the real firing range.

The Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is creating a virtual MK-19 trainer that will help shorten training set-up time and decrease ammunition costs, according to the Army. Researchers at the ARL in Orlando, Florida, are merging the weapon with existing hardware and software algorithms to create a training experience that blends real-time vision with virtual reality.

Once it is ready for full use in the field, the training platform will help soldiers expedite training on the weapon.

The concepts proven by the MK-19 trainer represent “the future of training for soldiers,” said Dean Reed, software developer and team lead at the ARL in Orlando.

August 9, 2017
By George I. Seffers
A panel at TechNet Augusta 2017 discusses military readiness.

One of the Army’s biggest needs in the area of tactical command, control and communications is radio waveforms that are difficult to detect and intercept.

Gary Martin, the service’s Program Executive Officer for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, told the AFCEA TechNet Augusta audience that hard-to-find waveforms top the service’s list, and he invited industry’s ideas on the subject.

August 3, 2017
A U.S. Marine trains at Range 10 at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii. Next year, the Defense Information Systems Agency will upgrade telecommunications for military forces in Hawaii.

U.S. Defense Department personnel stationed in Hawaii will experience less latency and more communication features with the implementation of the Pacific Enterprise Services–Hawaii (PES-HI) Program in 2018.

PES-HI, which will be managed by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), will upgrade legacy analog communications to an almost-Everything over Internet Protocol (IP) technology base, according to a DISA announcement. Improvements include enterprise services, such as Voice and Video over Internet Protocol and web conferencing as well as collaboration services, including chat and presence.

August 3, 2017
The U.S. Army is updating mission command network software and hardware, condensing more than a dozen versions to one standard baseline. (U.S. Army photo by Bridget Lynch, PEO C3T Public Affairs)

Beginning later this year, the U.S. Army will be updating mission command network software and hardware across 400 Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard units. The goal is to reduce more than a dozen mission command network software and hardware versions to one standard baseline. As a result, system complexity in the command-post environment will be mitigated, allowing for easier network initialization and sustainment.

August 1, 2017
By George I. Seffers
A senior airman removes his gas mask during a readiness drill. Because traditional biometric authentication techniques such as fingerprints and facial scans are not always practical for warfighters, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) officials are developing a prototypical system to track gait patterns and frequently visited locations.

A U.S. Defense Department pilot project intends to develop a prototype system within the next year to authenticate the identity of mobile users through their so-called patterns of life, such as how fast they walk to work or locations they routinely visit. The project is designed to benefit warfighters who may not have time for fingerprints, facial recognition scans or other forms of traditional biometrics.

August 1, 2017
By Marc Couture

Recent breakthroughs in multichannel signal analysis deliver a significant boost in electromagnetic spectrum coverage for airborne electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance applications. These advances make an impossible dream a reality: a cost-effective, open standards approach enabling coverage of far greater swaths of the electromagnetic spectrum, combined with the ability to analyze and act upon data in real time.

August 1, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
A U.S. airman with the 81st Force Support Squadron resets her common access card (CAC) personal identification number. U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue

The Defense Information Systems Agency is dipping its toes into the huge pool of options for identity security to generate new approaches that go well beyond usernames and passwords. Hoping to roll out some solutions before the end of the fiscal year, the agency is weighing multifactor authentication, derived credentials and technologies to support mobile devices and rid its ranks of the common access card.

August 1, 2017
By Maj. Gen. Earl D. Matthews, USAF (Ret.)

We are living in the second major wave of digital disruption. Most consider the advent of the Internet and ubiquitous email to be the first wave. In this second wave, where the cloud features prominently, modern apps and analytics will usher in unprecedented levels of productivity that will significantly differentiate militaries, companies and governments by their mission execution.

July 24, 2017
Army researcher Anthony J. Roberts powers a radio-controlled toy tank with hydrogen harvested from a unique chemical reaction. U.S. Army photo by David McNally

U.S. Army scientists and engineers recently designed an aluminum nanomaterial that produces high amounts of energy when it comes in contact with water, or any liquid containing water. Since the nanomaterial powder has the potential to be 3-D printed, researchers envision future air and ground robots that can feed off of their very structures and self-destruct after mission completion. Another possible application of the discovery that may help future soldiers is the potential to recharge mobile devices for recon teams.

July 20, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor
Maj. Gen. Sandra Finan, USAF, discusses her unique path, barriers she helped break and future opportunities that exist for women in the Air Force.

I was walking our two dogs listening to a “Stuff Mom Never Told You” podcast when the women in STEM idea piqued my interest. The topic intrigued me mostly because I thought in 2016 the issue of gender in the workplace had been settled. In a way, I was right. Career options for women were no longer limited to teaching, nursing or the nunnery.

July 20, 2017
By Julianne Simpson
Caroline Scheck, a mechanical engineer with the Additive Manufacturing Project Office, tells middle- and high-school students with the Washington, D.C., Girls in Technology program about the Manufacturing, Knowledge and Education Lab, Naval Surface Warfare Center in March. (U.S. Navy photo by Dustin Q. Diaz/Released)

Unlike my colleague Maryann Lawlor, who was told she could be one of three things growing up–a teacher, a nurse or a nun–I was never told I could not do something because I was a girl. I never felt like I had to be quiet in class to get a good grade or let my older brother win video games to make him like me. I played soccer and swam on the swim team just like all the boys, and later was a lifeguard alongside many of them. I treated them as equals and felt respected in return. They were simply my friends.

July 11, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor
Computers and credit cards are the new department stores, shopping malls and food marts.

Nearly everyone has heard a parent or grandparent refer to the good ol’ days. Tales usually begin either with, “When I was your age…” or “In my day, we didn’t have….”

While it seems appropriate that octogenarians and nonagenarians tell such stories, today they’re not the only generations sharing memories that begin with, “When I was young….” People in their 20s and 30s reflect on their youth wistfully because members of the younger generation—who, by the way, are only five or 10 years younger than they are—can communicate, play, buy and sell, and share life moments in ways that surprise even 20-somethings.

July 1, 2017
By George I. Seffers
Image courtesy of the National Science Foundation

Scientists are on the verge of breakthroughs in developing technology for controlling robots with brain waves. Advances might one day allow intuitive and instantaneous collaboration between man and machine, which could benefit a wide array of fields, including the military, medicine and manufacturing.

The possibilities for brain-controlled robotic systems are practically limitless. Experts suggest the capability could allow users to operate unmanned vehicles, wheelchairs or prosthetic devices. It could permit robots to lift hospital patients or carry wounded warriors to safety. Factory robots could more efficiently crank out jet fighters or virtually any other product. 

July 5, 2017
By Julianne Simpson

The results of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) scorecard, released by the Government Accountability Office in June, revealed many agencies continue to face challenges. For the first time since Congress began composing the biannual scorecard, more agency grades declined than improved.

Five agencies dropped a full letter grade, including the Departments of Defense, Interior and Labor; the Office of Personnel Management; and the Social Security Administration.

July 1, 2017
By Henry S. Kenyon
Solid-state batteries, attached by blue clamps, are tested at the University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering. These batteries offer the promise of greater power density and faster recharge times than lithium-ion batteries for everything from handheld devices to electric cars.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a solid-state battery that they believe solves many of the problems inherent in today’s lithium-ion cells. It could lead to safer, faster-charging batteries for handheld communication devices and electric cars, including unmanned vehicles. And it has at least three times as much energy density for longer life—or for an electric car, more miles between charges. 

July 1, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
Roboteam’s Zachary Lucas maneuvers the PROBOT Military Robot, a lightweight, all-terrain carrier and reconnaissance robot that hauls three times its own weight and allows hands-free operation. The adaptable plug-and-play platform can conform to troops’ missions to carry explosives, equipment, weapons and even troops themselves.

Robots have done their fair share of safeguarding troops on the battlefield, from defusing bombs to scouting out caves for insurgents. In spite of their success, or perhaps because of it, the U.S. Defense Department now wants its unmanned ground vehicles to be more than one-trick ponies. 

July 1, 2017
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

Robots, drones, automated devices—they are but a few of the names given to unmanned systems proliferating across the military and the commercial sector. The sky’s the limit for unmanned aerial vehicles, and no ocean is too deep for their underwater counterparts. Yet the potential for these devices, which seems unlimited, is being hindered by the human element they support. Planners must abandon convention and explore disruptive approaches that will allow unmanned systems to reach their full promise.

July 1, 2017
By Bob Lazaravich

Solid-state drives store data using flash memory and are becoming common system-level components in military systems. Although they are inexpensive and readily available, commercial off-the-shelf versions often fail to meet military requirements: predictable performance under stressful operating conditions, robust ruggedization, long-term availability from an accredited supplier and trusted security. Drives designed for the commercial market do not provide the flexible security features needed in today’s modern military applications. 

June 27, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor
The TrueNorth chip has the equivalent of 1 million neurons and 256 million synapses in a form of a postage stamp.

The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and IBM are collaborating on a brain-inspired supercomputing system powered by a 64-chip array. The laboratory is investigating applications for the system in embedded, mobile, autonomous settings where limiting factors today include size, weight and power.

As an end-to-end software ecosystem, the scalable platform would enable deep neural-network learning and information discovery. Its advanced pattern recognition and sensory processing power would be the equivalent of 64 million neurons and 16 billion synapses; however, the processor component only will consume approximately 10 watts, the equivalent of a dim light bulb.

June 22, 2017
By Christine Kerns

Some government leaders still hesitate to make the move to public cloud services, citing security concerns, a lack of familiarity with cloud-based applications or the perceived need that employees must be educated on the cloud. Things have changed. Commercial cloud offerings are part of the modern technology arsenal that all agencies should be considering.

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