January 10, 2019
By George I. Seffers
A new online wargame will help researchers study data associated with nuclear proliferation. Credit: Razvan Ionut Dragomirescu/Shutterstock

Later this month a team of researchers plans to release an online wargame that will use machine learning and data analytics to study nuclear conflict escalation and the strategic stability of nations in an artificial world.

January 9, 2019
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
A new virtual platform offers electronic caregiving. Credit: SameDay Security

A division of Las Cruces, New Mexico-based SameDay Security Inc., has introduced a virtual home health care assistant that the company claims will “quickly deliver an immersive end user experience.” The electronic interface, known as Addison Care, uses visual, artificial intelligence and augmented reality. The system runs on Amazon Sumerian, a service provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS).

“Designed to transform the home into a full-time health and wellness environment, Addison appears on 15-inch media screens throughout a residence and provides support to consumers with features including medication management, care plan adherence, social experiences and emergency response,” a company official stated.

January 7, 2019
Posted by George I. Seffers
Research at Sandia National Laboratories may help shape the future of quantum computing. Credit: TheDigitalArtist/Pixabay

Four newly announced projects led by Sandia National Laboratories aim to advance quantum computing technology, according to an announcement from the laboratories.

The efforts include: a quantum computing testbed with accessible components on which industrial, academic and government researchers can run their own algorithms; a suite of test programs to measure the performance of quantum hardware; classical software to ensure reliable operation of quantum computing testbeds and coax the most utility from them; and high-level quantum algorithms that explore connections with theoretical physics, classical optimization and machine learning.

January 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
The cloud landscape will continue to evolve as the commercial industry continues to invest heavily in cloud service offerings, including data storage, such as this Microsoft data center.  Microsoft

Heavy hitters in the commercial cloud industry, such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, are pushing cloud-computing capabilities to what they refer to as the intelligent edge. They are connecting Internet of Things devices and mobile applications with ever-expanding cloud capabilities and the advanced computing of artificial intelligence to create a so-called intelligent cloud, pushing out the results of advanced processing and data analysis to a user’s fingertips.

January 1, 2019
By George I. Seffers
An Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. A program to develop mission planning software is one of several already benefiting from the Air Force’s agile software development efforts.  Photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Jordan Castelan

Steven Wert, recently named the U.S. Air Force’s Program Executive Officer Digital, is on a mission to fundamentally alter the service’s processes for developing and fielding software through development operations, commonly known as DevOps. The methodology merges software development and technology operations functions, allowing the two to work more closely to reduce the time needed to create new systems. Working closely with the end users is key to what Wert describes as a “release cadence” of weeks or months instead of years.

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

Welcome to the first of a new monthly column I will be writing for SIGNAL!

First, let me say what an honor and thrill it is to be asked by SIGNAL Magazine to contribute a regular column. SIGNAL and the entire AFCEA community have long served as a critical public square for airing the important technological issues that confront the Defense Department, and I look forward to participating in that discussion.

December 11, 2018
Posted by Julianne Simpson
NIST researcher Jelena Senic drives a robot used to measure the performance of different antenna beam patterns. Photo Credit: NIST

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) researchers have developed a method for assessing and selecting optimal antenna design for future fifth-generation (5G) cellphones and other wireless devices and base stations.

5G systems will avoid crowded, conventional wireless channels by using higher, millimeter-wave frequency bands. Because transmissions at these frequencies lose a lot of energy along the way, received signal strength can weaken. One solution is “smart” antennas that can form unusually narrow beams and quickly steers them in different directions.

December 10, 2018
By Paul Parker
The U.S. defense community is buzzing about open source containers, but the technology presents security concerns. Credit: TheDigitalArtist/Pixabay

Open source containers, which isolate applications from the host system, appear to be gaining traction with IT professionals in the U.S. defense community. But for all their benefits, security remains a notable Achilles’ heel for a couple of reasons.

First, containers are still fairly nascent, and many administrators are not yet completely familiar with their capabilities. It’s difficult to secure something you don’t completely understand. Second, containers are designed in a way that hampers visibility. This lack of visibility can make securing containers extremely taxing.

Layers upon layers

December 7, 2018
Posted by Julianne Simpson
Researchers injected a magnetorheological (MR) fluid into hollow lattice structures built on LLNL’s Large Area Projection Microstereolithography (LAPµSL) platform, which 3D prints objects with microscale features over wide areas using light and a photosensitive polymer resin. Photo by Julie Mancini/LLNL

Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have developed a new class of metamaterials that can almost instantly respond and stiffen 3D-printed structures when exposed to a magnetic field. The development has huge implications for next-generation helmets, wearable armor and countless other innovations.

These new “field-responsive mechanical metamaterials” (FRMMs) use a vicious, magnetically responsive fluid that is manually injected into the hollow struts and beams of 3D-printed lattices. Unlike other shape-morphing materials, the structure of the FRMMs does not change.

December 1, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s (ARL’s) development of robotics technology includes the On-Demand Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or ODSUAS, which are 3D-printed. Soldiers would input requirements into mission planning software that knows the optimal configuration for an aerial vehicle, and it would be printed and delivered within 24 hours. ARL research aims to stair-step technologies that ultimately turn robots into teammates for battlefield warfighters.  Credit: ARL

Robots that will equip the future U.S. Army will progress through an academic type of development that ultimately will have them graduate with full autonomy as equal partners with soldiers on the battlefield, if the Army Research Laboratory has its way. This learning regimen will allow them to grow into their roles as they mature from teleoperated machines to guided apprentices on their way to fully skilled battlefield operators that are teammates with warfighters.

December 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
A smart skin technology for robots or prosthetics developed by researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington is undergoing testing with three companies and could soon be ready for fielding.  Courtesy University of Texas at Arlington

A research team at the University of Texas at Arlington may one day cover robots and prosthetic devices with nanotechnology skin to provide them with a sense of touch far superior to humans.

A sense of touch could allow for greater precision and control. A robot needs to know, for example, how much pressure to apply when picking up an elderly patient from a bed, an airplane engine from a factory floor, or a glass of champagne from a tabletop.

December 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
Atoms are the building blocks for molecules. Scientists theorize that someday robots made of atoms may build a wide range of products at the molecular level.  Anusom Nakdee/Shutterstock

In the decades to come, the U.S. military may manufacture combat parts and supplies on the battlefield using robots made of molecules all working together as part of a molecular factory. The nanoscale factories could revolutionize military logistics by eliminating the need to transport or store parts and supplies for every possible contingency. The same technology may prove useful for tying together strands of molecules for superstrong, lightweight armor.

December 1, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
The U.S. Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Modular Autonomous Vehicle (EMAV) is a versatile, fully autonomous ground vehicle designed to provide tactical-scale infantry support at the platoon level.  U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Lab

The novelty of a robot joining warfighters on the battlefield has worn off, and the U.S. Marines are settling in to make their use of autonomous systems more effective. The service cannot afford to have robots that hinder operations, an expert says.

The Science and Technology Division of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory is considering robotic systems that lighten cognitive or physical burdens for Marines. Researchers are advancing robotic or autonomous machines not just for the infantry but for medical and logistics units as well.

December 1, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL’s) work on adjusting how artificial neural networks learn aims to improve the manipulation capabilities of robots.  ktsdesign/Shutterstock

YouTube videos of robots running and jumping can be pretty persuasive as to what autonomous technologies can do. However, there is a large gap between robots’ locomotion and their ability to handle and move objects in their environment. Programs at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory are examining how to close this capability gap and improve the functionality of robots and other autonomous systems.

Autonomous capabilities have advanced, especially in the last 10 years, but robots still have a hard time performing ad hoc motions, particularly manipulative movements using a robotic arm or hand, says Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) roboticist Glen Henshaw.

December 1, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
The NRL is looking for a transition partner for MERLIN that wants to develop and possibly field small quadruped robots.  NRL

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL’s) work on its Meso-scale Robotic Locomotion Initiative, known as MERLIN, is advancing, reports NRL roboticist Glen Henshaw. The shoebox-size quadruped robot, meant to weigh in at 10 kilograms (22 pounds), features hydraulic-based legs for running, jumping or climbing—to navigate environments too complicated for tracked or wheeled robots.

And after several years of development, MERLIN is almost walking, Henshaw says.

December 1, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Hoisting a recumbent bike onto the back of a motor vehicle is made easier by a hydraulic device developed by engineering students at the Colorado School of Mines. A Navy veteran who participates in bike races can now get to more competitions thanks to the system built for him in a QL+ project.  QL+ photo

University engineering students across the country are plying their skills to address challenges for disabled veterans suffering from the loss of physical capabilities. Students apply mechanical solutions in a program called Quality of Life Plus to supply the missing link for a better quality of life after those who have served have been successfully treated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

December 1, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
With fewer techniques to map and maneuver than aerial robots, underwater robots have to rely on advanced sonar sensors and other tools, such as multibeam sonar processing and virtual occupancy grid mapping, says Carnegie Mellon University professor Michael Kaess.  Carnegie Mellon University/Michael Henninger

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science in Pittsburgh are examining how to create systems that can perform autonomously underwater and provide a clearer view of the subsurface environment. Such capabilities offer important applications to the U.S. services, the Navy, Coast Guard and Marines Corps, as well as to the commercial shipping industry for ship and harbor inspections, among other activities.

December 1, 2018
By Maj. Michael L. Hefti, USA, and Lt. Col. Christopher D. L’Heureux, USA
2nd Cavalry Regiment Strykers conduct a road march over more than 2,100 miles from Germany to Lithuania. The integrated tactical network helps mission command on the go.  Lt. Col. Christopher L’Heureux, USA

The current process for mission command modernization is not keeping pace with technology, which will dramatically impact the future battlefield. Despite massive technological advancements, the U.S. Army continues to struggle with the upper tactical internet. The service’s current technology fails to provide a near instantaneous, resilient, on-the-move communication capability and is at risk of being outpaced by both industry and potential adversaries.

December 1, 2018
By Terry Halvorsen

It is hard to believe that a full year has passed and this is my final column for SIGNAL. I have greatly enjoyed writing these pieces, and I thank AFCEA for this opportunity. I have enjoyed and been enlightened by your feedback—good and bad—and I very much appreciated many of the discussions that happened because of these columns. I would like to use this final column as a summary and a reminder of what I believe is coming with technology and with some social issues.

December 1, 2018
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

The past three decades have seen technologies rapidly transform the face of society. Robots, coupled with artificial intelligence, machine learning and other developing capabilities such as the Internet of Things (IoT), are among the latest technologies to offer the promise of labor-saving capabilities, improved efficiency in manufacturing, better precision in the medical field and enhanced capabilities in national security, to name just a few applications.