Technology

December 13, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
Students at the Naval War College are told that broad adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) will be the key to future operational success. (U.S. Navy photo)

Students and faculty at the Naval War College should begin “diving in” to artificial intelligence (AI), said the director of the Defense Department’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, USAF, declared, “We need far more national security professionals who understand what this technology can do or, equally important, what it cannot do,” according to Navy officials.

December 11, 2019
By George I. Seffers
The Defense Department has added to new 5G-related requests for prototype proposals to its efforts with the National Spectrum Consortium. Credit: Wit Olszewski/Shutterstock

The U.S. Defense Department has released two more draft requests for prototype proposals seeking fifth-generation (5G) wireless solutions. The newly announced projects are for smart warehousing and asset management for Naval Supply Systems Command and augmented reality and virtual reality at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.

December 11, 2019
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
The Air Force’s new Space Fence solution, installed in the Marshall Islands on the Kwajalein Atoll, will provide “unprecedented” situational awareness in space, the Space and Missile Systems Center reports. Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin

A new capability will give the U.S. military crucial situational awareness in a domain that is growing in importance—space. The so-called Space Fence will detect closely located objects, breakups, maneuvers, launches and conjunction assessments all the way from low Earth orbit through geosynchronous Earth orbit, reported an official from Los Angeles Air Force Base, California on December 10.

December 9, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
An HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter assigned to the 305th Rescue Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, flies during an exercise above the waters of Tampa Bay, Florida, in November. The Air Force is pursuing innovative digital high frequency solutions as another communications tool for airmen and Joint warfighters. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ryan C. Grossklag

Advanced long-distance communication solutions are needed for the military of the future, especially for operations in contested environments. Innovative high frequency solutions offer communication over long distances in real time and provide an alternative to satellite communications. The U.S. military and industry are working to harness wideband high frequency technologies, which can offer higher data rates on a single high frequency communications channel.

 

Link 16 is a secure system protocol that allows different military users to share data over the same network.

But like any good thing, everybody wants a piece of the action. As the popularity of Link 16 grows to include more platforms (ships, aircraft, vehicles, drones, etc.) and individual users, it will be important to expand Link 16 capabilities to help U.S. and coalition military forces adjust to new mission needs, enhance situational awareness, adapt to new technologies and improve warfighter safety.

December 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Roboticists at the Army Research Lab are pulling together components for robots to be able to take verbal instruction from soldiers and then complete a series of complex tasks. Here, the robot acts as a forward observer, detects a possible enemy position and relays the information to the soldier, who plans their next move.  CCDC ARL

Scientists at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, Maryland, are preparing robots that can talk with soldiers, navigate in a “socially compliant” manner and learn from demonstration. The effort to enable robots to take verbal instruction, complete a series of complex tasks and maneuver in the same environments as soldiers is all part of the Army’s long-term endeavor to create fully skilled battlefield operators that work with warfighters, say Ethan Stump and John Rogers, roboticists at the Army Research Lab (ARL).

December 1, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
The Army Research Laboratory’s (ARL’s) robotic manipulator, or RoMan, autonomously moves debris as part of a field exercise at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, earlier this year. Advances emerging from the ARL’s Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance have come together to produce self-determining robots modeled after Army battlefield needs.  CCDC Army Research Laboratory Public Affairs

Years of experimentation by Army scientists and academic laboratories have led to a new generation of robots that feature advanced capabilities bordering on human reasoning. These mechanisms are able to autonomously perform complex tasks in part by learning how to ape human behavior. Scientists have generated algorithms that teach robots both to perform complex functions and also learn from humans as they evolve digitally.

December 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Members of Team Co-STAR from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and South Korea’s KAIST Lab prepare to send their autonomous systems into one of the coal mine tunnels during the Subterranean Challenge.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is experimenting with underground robotic capabilities through its three-year contest—the Subterranean Challenge, also called SubT. This competition aims to spur tactical communications, mapping and search-related robotic technologies for use in subterranean environments.

December 1, 2019
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

Advances in sensor mechanics and the advent of artificial intelligence have cleared the way for robots to play an increasingly greater role in military operations. Their growing versatility allows them to serve multiple functions in the military, from basic assistance to assumption of full combat roles. They can inter alia, lighten a warfighter’s load, provide search and rescue capabilities, perform surveillance missions, engage in casual evacuation, provide resupply and conduct hazardous route reconnaissance. Within 10 years, we may see them driving supply vehicles in convoys.

December 1, 2019
By Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence, USA (Ret.)

Well, 2019 has flown right by, and so my monthly column for SIGNAL Magazine comes to a close. It has truly been a privilege to present these columns to the AFCEA community. I hope they sparked some fresh thinking about the many changes and innovations we see all around us. The U.S. military community is at an inflection point, and it is critical that we continue these important discussions into the future.

November 18, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
A Santa Monica-based company has developed an augmented reality platform to allow fighter pilots to train in aerial warfare against virtual opponents. Credit: Photo courtesy of Red6 Aerospace.

The ability to train top U.S. military aviators in air-to-air combat usually requires pilots acting as opposing aerial fighters. Representing the enemy in training dogfights is quite costly and dangerous, says Daniel Robinson, RAF (Ret.). Robinson, co-founder and CEO of Red6 Aerospace, developed an augmented reality platform, called Airborne Tactical Augmented Reality System, known as A-TARS, that creates virtual opponents, such as the Chinese J-20, for pilots to dogfight against.

November 13, 2019
Posted by Julianne Simpson
Credit: Shutterstock/whiteMocca

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has awarded $159,040 to Learning Machine Technologies Inc. to develop blockchain security technology to prevent credential fraud.

November 13, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Gen. Mike Holmes, USAF, commander of Air Combat Command (r), receives a brief on U-2 Dragon Lady ejection procedures from Lt. Col. Charles, 9th Operations Group deputy commander, at Beale Air Force Base, California. Holmes visited the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, where he was immersed in all aspects of the reconnaissance mission. U.S Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tristan D. Viglianco

The necessity of multidomain operations to combat near-peer adversaries in the future dictates that the U.S. military fight together seamlessly across the air, land, sea, space and cyber environments. The services must be able to generate offensive and defensive effects from all of these domains, with systems in one environment supporting operations in another domain, said Gen. Mike Holmes, USAF, commander, Air Combat Command, speaking Tuesday at AFCEA International and IEEE’s MILCOM conference in Norfolk, Virginia.

November 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II jets fire flares while breaking away after aerial refueling from a KC-135 Stratotanker of the 340th Expeditionary Aerial Refueling Squadron out of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, in August. In multidomain operations in the future, the Air Force will need a highly connected web of sensors across the air, land, sea and space.  U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Keifer Bowes

As the U.S. Air Force is working to define operations on the battlefield of the future, sensors or other digitally connected devices will play a key role—as they always have—but on a much larger scale, one expert says. For the military, the world of Internet of Things, or IoT, has to work across the air, land, space and sea domains. And for the Air Force to enable a greater sensor-based environment, it has to tackle data platforms, cloud storage and capabilities, communication infrastructure and its network, says Lauren Knausenberger, the Air Force’s chief transformation officer.

November 1, 2019
By George Seffers
DARPA’s Ocean of Things program may be the largest effort for deploying sensors in the ocean, but others are interested in gathering oceanic data.  Willyam Bradberry/Shutterstock

The U.S. Defense Department could one day place thousands of low-cost, floating sensors into the ocean to collect environmental data, such as water temperature, as well as activity data about commercial vessels, aircraft and even fish or maritime mammals moving through the area. But others also are dropping similar sensors in the world’s oceans, and defense researchers suggest many of those systems could be integrated into an even more comprehensive ocean-based Internet of Things.

November 1, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
Green Beret forces train for multidomain operations in a joint exercise with the U.S. Air Force. Adapting technologies and capabilities from the Internet of Things (IoT) may hold the key toward achieving vital capabilities for Army multidomain warfighters.  U.S. Army

The U.S. Army is looking toward the Internet of Things to reshape the future force for multidomain operations. Faced with the challenge of networking vast amounts of diverse sensors, the service views this type of networking as the solution to greater efficiency combined with increased capability.

Bruce D. Jette, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, emphasizes the importance of the Internet of Things (IoT) approach across the service. “The IoT has the potential to greatly improve and economize the way we will operate as an Army in the future,” he declares.

November 1, 2019
By Matt Dumiak
Protected data includes any information that can directly or indirectly identify an individual, such as name, driver’s license information, address, passport number, Social Security number and email address.

The California Consumer Privacy Act gives the state’s residents the ability to see and control the personal data companies have, share and sell. The privacy act started as a ballot initiative in early 2018 and was signed into law just a few months later in June. After first-round amendments were approved, the effective date was set as January 1, 2020, with an enforcement of July 1, 2020.

October 21, 2019
Posted by George I. Seffers
Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories search for ways to protect satellites from a variety of threats, including missiles, lasers and electronic warfare. Credit: Shutterstock/Andrey Armyagov

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories launched a seven-year mission campaign this month to develop the science, technology and architecture needed for autonomous satellite protection systems.

October 18, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
This early version of the ARL RCTA's LLAMA robot demonstrated how a quadruped can ascertain obstacles and avoid them. An improved version features better sensors, and future iterations will give it more speed and greater payload.

Autonomous vehicles that can clear debris from roads, move containers after determining their contents and scuttle across rough terrain amid changing environments have emerged as the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) marked 10 years of collaborative research with industry and academia. The goals reached in the capstone of the Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance (RCTA) were presented at the Carnegie Mellon University National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) in Pittsburgh, as the ARL demonstrated several robots designed around Army battlefield needs.

October 17, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Soldiers travel in an M113 armored personnel carrier during a combat support training exercise. The Army keeps purchases and stores for long periods components of major systems, such as transmissions for M113s, but advances in manufacturing could help the service, and the industrial base, find new ways of sustaining heavy equipment. Credit: Master Sgt. Michel Sauret

Advanced manufacturing techniques could inject innovation into the defense industry, suggested Bruce Jette, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology.

“We have a problem with the industrial base, particularly for the defense industry,” Jette told the audience at the Association of the United States Army annual conference in Washington, D.C. He added that the industrial base still conjures images of “large, smoking cauldrons of steel” because “that’s what we drove them to.”

Jette further noted that the industrial base “has some gaps in it because we haven’t been producing large equipment systems in a long time.”

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