Technology

July 1, 2019
By George I. Seffers
The NSF’s Quantum Leap initiative includes a number of programs aimed at advancing the quantum technology research and helping the United States maintain a competitive edge over other nations.  Nicolle R. Fuller/ NSF

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is investing in a number of research institutes designed to advance quantum technologies in four broad areas: computation, communication, sensing and simulation. The institutes will foster multidisciplinary approaches to specific scientific, technological, educational, and workforce development goals in quantum technology, which could revolutionize computer and information systems.

July 1, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
Shutterstock/Kritsana Maimeetook

The fight to secure microelectronic chips is becoming as basic as the chip itself. With chips facing a myriad of threats throughout their life cycle, experts are incorporating security measures into the development of the chip from the foundry to assembly. Other approaches safeguard against threats that could appear as the chip moves through the supply chain. The bottom line for microelectronics security is that necessary measures cannot wait until the device is in the hands of the user.

July 1, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Using traditional processes for manufacturing silicon chips, researchers can fabricate 1 million nanosized robots on a single chip. The robots may one day crawl around inside the body to collect data on the brain or the spinal column. Shutterstock/solarseven

Nanosized robots capable of crawling around on a person’s brain or underneath the skin may sound like a nightmare to some, but researchers suggest the mini machines could serve medical purposes such as gathering data on the brain or the spinal column.

July 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Some of DARPA’s research into microelectronics is creating automatic security mechanisms integrated into the design of microchips, which are smaller than a grain of sand.  Connect world/Shutterstock

The colossal reliance on semiconductor chips by the military and commercial industry reaches across weapons, machines and systems that perform key defense and national security functions. And while the Defense Department and the industry use secure chips, they are expensive and hard to design. To remedy that, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA, is looking to automatically include defense mechanisms into the design of microchips. The agency is creating tools to manage the supply chain custody throughout the life cycle of a microchip and increase the availability and economics of secure microelectronics.

July 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
The need from the semiconductor manufacturing industry to be able to validate circuits will only grow in the future, says Lynford Goddard, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  Shutterstock/fotografos

As semiconductor manufacturers aim to produce devices at the 5-nanometer node, the ability to find tiny defects created inadvertently during the fabrication process becomes harder. In addition, there is a growing need to verify that a chip was built as specified and doesn’t contain a malicious agent. Harnessing optical methods for semiconductor wafer inspection is one way to effectively look for anomalies, says Lynford Goddard, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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

The discovery and taming of fire changed the way humans lived. Its broad range of uses came with both benefits and hazards. It could enable life in harsh environments, but it could also serve as an instrument of destruction. The same dichotomy holds true with social media today, but its ill effects cannot be easily extinguished.

June 26, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Ron Schmelzer and Kathleen Walch (r), who both are managing partners and principal analysts at Cognilytica and spoke at the recent AI World Government conference, advise that not every information technology problem can be solved by using artificial intelligence systems.

With the explosion of artificial intelligence onto the computing scene again, the hype about the technology continues to grow. Making sense of how to employ artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can still be difficult, however, experts reasoned Monday at the AI World Government conference, held in Washington, D.C., June 24-26.

June 24, 2019
Posted by Gopika Ramesh
The Stampede supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas in Austin is funded by the NSF and specializes in high performance research and development and data analysis. Credit: Texas Advanced Computing Center

Artificial intelligence (AI) research has enabled breakthroughs across almost every sector. The National Science Foundation (NSF), a leading funder of activities that support AI research and innovation, is joining other federal agency partners to announce the release of the 2019 update to the National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research and Development (R&D) Strategic Plan.

The strategic plan was developed by the Select Committee on AI of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC). The 2019 plan offers a national agenda on AI science and engineering.

June 17, 2019
Posted by George I. Seffers
Afsaneh Rabiei examines a sample of composite metal foam. Her pioneering research has led to armor plating that weighs far less than steel and is capable of stopping armor-piercing .50-caliber bullets. Credit: North Carolina State University

A composite metal foam (CMF) material developed by researchers at North Carolina State University can stop ball and armor-piercing .50 caliber rounds as well as conventional steel armor, even though it weighs less than half as much, the university recently announced. The finding means that vehicle designers will be able to develop lighter military vehicles without sacrificing safety, or can improve protection without making vehicles heavier.

Previous research has resulted in CMF material capable of shredding bullets.

June 13, 2019
Posted by George I. Seffers
The U.S. Air Force has successfully launched the AGM-183A Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon from a B-52 Stratofortress for the first time. Credit: Airman 1st Class Victor J. Caputo/U.S. Air Force

The U.S. Air Force successfully conducted the first flight test of its AGM-183A Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW, on a B-52 Stratofortress aircraft on June 12 at Edwards Air Force Base, California, the service has announced.

June 1, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
A scientist at the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) holds a demonstration battery built in the shape of an Army star. This new battery technology, constructed with a water-based electrolyte, is lightweight, flexible and safe from explosive reactions, making it more suitable for battlefield applications than conventional batteries. Army Research Laboratory photo

The proliferation of soldier electronic devices may be powered by a new generation of batteries based on substances as exotic as water. Other technologies are part of the mix as scientists strive to eliminate the need for individual soldiers to carry power-supply bricks in their kit.

The new power sources may take the form of conformal constructs that are shaped to fit on a soldier’s body. Even vest straps could be power sources that support a host of different electronics technologies essential to infantry operations.

June 1, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
An Air Force Academy cadet peers into a wind tunnel used for measuring effects on hypersonic research vehicles. Development of new hypersonic craft is speeding up, but considerable research remains to overcome some technological challenges.  U.S. Air Force photo

The use of hypersonic weapons and vehicles for offensive and defensive military operations is accelerating as advanced research picks up in technologically sophisticated countries. However, speed increases are accompanied by growth in the number of technological challenges that must be overcome to build successful systems.

June 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
The fifth generation of wireless technology, or 5G, is widely being promoted as a transformational technology, but its uses for the military are just starting to be defined, experts say. Credit: jamesteohart/Shutterstock

News about the coming 5G wireless network is seemingly everywhere, with advertisements referring to it as revolutionary or transformational. And indeed, the suggested “superpowers” of the fifth generation of wireless technology are quite impressive: great speed, improved latency and tremendous capacity in terms of bandwidth. 5G will provide connectivity to many more devices, support video and other digital images at much higher capacities and broaden the era of the Internet of Things. 5G will become the basis for critical infrastructure and the platform that enables the use of autonomous vehicles, which will alter daily life.

June 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
U.S. companies are building laser communications networks that offer low latency, security, speed and global coverage.  Thales Alenia Space

Laser communications, also called optical communications, is not a new capability. The photon- or light-based technology relies on lasers to transmit data through space by satellite. Experts venture that optical communications will provide unprecedented communication speeds, security, reliability and low latency. The capability’s high-data rates apply to ground, air and space applications, making it a versatile tool. For warfighters, this technology offers an alternative to traditional radio frequency-based communications.

June 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Europe has a laser communications system in operation, the SpaceDataHighway. Credit: Airbus

While American companies are working to build a laser communications infrastructure and market, Europe already has a laser communications system in operation, the SpaceDataHighway. The system can transfer customers’ imagery, video, voice and other data from Earth observation satellites, manned aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicles via optical communication geostationary earth orbit (GEO) relay satellites, explains Justin Luczyk, director of business development for Airbus Defense and Space Inc.

June 1, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Currently in development, the X-60A will serve the hypersonic flight test and suborbital research communities with an air-launched single-stage liquid booster.  Original image by Generational Orbit. Edited by Chris D’Elia.

Achieving and maintaining hypersonic flight—Mach 5 and above—remains a major challenge, but officials at U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory envision a day when hypersonic technologies are developed and deployed much more quickly and affordably than is currently possible.

The X-60A hypersonic flight test vehicle is central to that goal. The Generation Orbit system will be used to test technologies at hypersonic speeds. The idea is to increase the frequency of flight testing while lowering the cost of maturing hypersonic technologies in relevant flight conditions.

June 1, 2019
By Shaun Waterman

Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor is one of the most advanced fighter jets on the planet—not to mention one of the fastest. But over the past few years, as other nations began to test-fly and deploy their own fifth-generation fighters, Lockheed Martin realized that its software development practices were holding it back, delivering new capabilities to the Raptor too slowly to maintain its dominance.

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

Technology has given U.S. forces an immutable edge for more than three decades. No nation dared confront the most powerful military in the world head-on. But over time, the technological benefits enjoyed by our military have waned, and adversaries are rapidly cutting into our technological warfighting strength.

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

Ever since British polymath Alan Turing posed the question, “Can machines think?” in 1950, mathematicians and computer scientists have been actively exploring the potential of artificial intelligence (AI).

To be sure, much of the buzz around AI since then has been more hype than reality. Even today, no one credibly argues that machines can match the suppleness and complexity of human intelligence. But we are at a point where machines, when tasked for specific use, can do many things humans can do—such as learn, problem-solve, perceive, decide, plan, communicate and create—and some things even humans can’t do. And that’s a huge leap from where we were only a decade ago.

May 22, 2019
By Julianne Simpson
Yuvi Kochar, former chief technology officer for The Washington Post, speaks to attendees at the AFCEA-GMU C4I and Cyber Center Symposium about how CTOs can leverage technology to drive business outcomes.

“The whole business of being a CTO has changed,” said Yuvi Kochar, managing director, technology and operations, CAQH, a nonprofit alliance creating shared initiatives to streamline the business of healthcare.

During his keynote address at the AFCEA-GMU C4I and Cyber Center Symposium, the former chief technology officer (CTO) of The Washington Post, discussed how he first became a CTO in 2000 for a small startup in Boston. “My first job was all about building technology and operating it. And that was good enough,” Kochar said.

Over time though, he’s seen the job transform into a more business-centric role. “Technology is taking more and more of a backseat,” he related.

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