Technology

August 7, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The Ripsaw M5 robotic combat vehicle developed by a team made up ofTextron, Howe & Howe, and FLIR Systems, is one of two robotic systems being developed for the Army's manned-unmanned teaming concept.  The other is the a light robotic vehicle being developed by QinetiQ and Pratt and Miller. The service is conducting a series of experiments to test the concept using surrogate vehicles while the robotic systems are in development. Photo courtesy of Textron

Manned-unmanned teaming technologies being assessed in a weeks-long experiment are receiving mostly positive reviews from Army officials and non-commissioned officers.

The Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team and Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center are conducting soldier operational experiments at Ft. Carson, Colorado, from June 15 through August 14. The goal is to observe, collect and analyze feedback from soldiers to assess the feasibility of integrating unmanned vehicles into ground combat formations.

August 1, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off, carrying the company’s StarLink low-earth-orbit networking satellites. Flooding near-earth space with hundreds of satellites is the future of orbital activities as satellite construction expenses and launch costs continue to come down.  SpaceX

The next era of satellite communications is upon us in the form of low-earth-orbit constellations aiming to revolutionize personal connectivity, according to satellite experts. These new satellite swarms are being driven by technology innovations simultaneously with the growth of less-expensive launch services. The result will be an explosion in the number and type of orbiters serving their earthbound hosts while raising the bar for support technologies on the ground.

August 1, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket lifts off from Vandenber Air Force Base on January 19, 2019. With its rapid fielding pace, the Space Development Agency plans to launch initial capacity of its new network in 2021. U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson

The threats to the U.S. military and the nation are such that additional space-based capabilities must be rapidly fielded. A proliferated low-earth-orbit constellation of satellites and sensors will connect to the military’s tactical legacy datalinks and weapons systems to deter against advanced threats. In particular, beyond-line-of-sight targeting capabilities and enabling the detection, tracking and fire control of advanced missile threats will be a part of the system that the Space Development Agency deploys as part of its National Defense Space Architecture, or the NDSA, says the agency’s director, Derek Tournear.

August 1, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The Naval Research Lab’s Blossom Point satellite tracking facility is fully automated, reducing manpower and costs. Now, the research lab is extending those capabilities with autonomous antennas in California and Hawaii.   Emanuel Cavalarro

By year’s end, U.S. Navy researchers intend to add one of two remote autonomous antennas to its satellite tracking architecture, enhancing its ability to collect strategic satellite data and support space-related research and development.

The first antenna will be located at a secure, undisclosed and unmanned site in California and will extend the tracking capabilities from Blossom Point, Maryland. The second is planned for Hawaii.

Blossom Point is located south of Washington, D.C., and is owned and operated by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). It is considered a state-of-the-art command and control facility capable of supporting satellite spaceflight missions from launch through end-of-life.

August 1, 2020
By Henry S. Kenyon

Mapping and location finding technologies common to every smartphone are making their way to 911 emergency calls, letting first responders know exactly where to go and saving precious time that can be used to save lives.

These capabilities are emerging in what’s known as Next Generation 911, or NG911. They represent a fusion of mobile device applications and services that are being overlaid or built into these new emergency telecommunications systems that let police, paramedics and firefighters get to exactly where they need to be.

August 1, 2020
By Henry S. Kenyon

Intelligence community and government personnel who work with classified or sensitive information often use multiple computers on their desks, each one connected to a separate network based on the security level of the information being accessed.

This can create a variety of IT and logistical challenges for workers onsite, but as ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other circumstances force more people to work remotely, managing all of this equipment and their security requirements from a private home can be difficult or nearly impossible without multilevel secure systems capable of doing the job of multiple desktops in a single secure station.

July 30, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
A DARPA cubesat placed into orbit from the International Space Station contains an experiment in which microelectronic mechanical systems (MEMS) change the mirror shape of an optical system to generate high-quality imagery. Space is just one area in which the agency is boosting its research to meet new challenges. Credit: NASA photo

New research areas and greater emphasis on existing sciences define the way ahead for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Longstanding areas such as artificial intelligence, quantum sciences and directed energy systems now are sharing the spotlight with antiviral research, space systems and operational biotechnology as the agency aims deeper into the new decade.

July 30, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The Army’s CCDC C5ISR Center uses field experimentation, such as the annual Network Modernization Experiment, to evaluate the maturity of DOD and industry technologies early in the research and development cycle and in a relevant, threat-based environment. Credit: U.S. Army

During the Army’s Network Modernization Experiment 2020 that kicked off last week, researchers are attacking fledgling systems with electronic warfare capabilities that near-peer adversaries are not expected to possess for years to come, officials say.

July 29, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
The Defense Health Agency and the Defense Healthcare Management Systems' recently completed cloud Accelerated Migration Project required a massive amount of storage, from Amazon Web Service's (AWS') Snowball Edge devices (pictured), which each have a capacity of 100 terabytes of data. Credit: AWS

Experts at the Defense Health Agency (DHA) and the Program Executive Office, Defense Healthcare Management Systems, recently completed a game-changing cloud migration project that digitally transformed access to Defense Department medical records. The so-called Accelerated Migration Project, or AMP, was a vast data migration of petabytes of secondary healthcare data to the cloud. The effort involved working with 20 outside vendors, restructuring to 14 cloud native services, managing 60 separate applications and consolidating several hundred virtual machines.

July 20, 2020
Posted by Julianne Simpson
Vince Urias, Sandia National Laboratories computer scientist, will pitch cybersecurity tools to potential investors at a special Department of Energy event. Photo by Randy Montoya

Two Sandia National Laboratories computer scientists are earning national recognition for cybersecurity platforms they developed. Adrian Chavez and Vince Urias will pitch their software to investors, entrepreneurs and prospective customers during the Cybersecurity Technology Virtual Showcase, which runs July 21-30 and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Combined, Chavez and Urias led the creation of four of the technologies to be showcased.

July 16, 2020
By George I. Seffers
A convoy of Army vehicles equipped with mobile Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) systems enable mobile mission command, advanced communication and real-time common operating picture from anywhere on the battlefield. WlN-T is one system supported by the Army's Communications-Electronics Command under new initiatives aimed at resolving issues with outdated and unpatched software.  U.S. Army photo courtesy of the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California

Next week, the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division will begin testing a software repository that allows the downloading of up-to-date software systems and patches. The effort is one of thee major initiatives to resolve the service’s challenges in updating and securing systems to enhance operational readiness.

Maj. Gen. Mitchell Kilgo, USA, commanding general, Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM), reported the effort during the final day of the virtual Army’s 2020 Signal Conference, which is hosted by AFCEA.

July 15, 2020
By Rachel Lilly
Policy makers face challenges including false information, poor implementation and strong emotions when it comes to biometrics.

Efforts to produce evidence-driven, equitable and outcome-focused policies for biometric technology have been impeded by a lack of in-depth knowledge, poor implementations, false information and emotions running high.

July 15, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Among an array of activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Defense Information Systems Command supported the needs of the U.S. Navy ships Comfort and Mercy. Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Bill Mesta/Released

In response to the teleworking boom resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) dramatically increased network capacity, expanded access to virtual private networks and adopted new online collaboration tools, allowing thousands of Defense Department personnel to safely and securely work from home.  

Addressing the audience tuning into the Army’s 2020 Signal Conference, which is sponsored by AFCEA and streamed online, Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, the agency’s director, reported that the agency never shut down and never stopped working during the ongoing pandemic.

July 14, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, USA, the Army's soon-to-retire CIO/G-6, attends a working lunch during the Joint Warfighting Assessment on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., May 1, 2019. The CIO said during the Army’s virtual 2020 Signal Conference hosted by AFCEA that the time is right for the service to split the CIO and G-6 offices. Credit: Sgt. Torrance Saunders

The U.S. Army’s near future will include an increased focus on adopting “zero trust” cybersecurity practices, better protecting its network endpoints and consolidating its plethora of cloud computing contracts, according to Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, the Army’s outgoing CIO/G-6. It also will likely include tightening defense budgets.

The general indicated during a keynote address for the Army’s virtual 2020 Signal Conference, which is hosted by AFCEA, that the 2021 fiscal year “is going to be all about driving on priorities.”

July 13, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Latest from startups presenting during Starburst Accelerator's U.S. Selection Committee offer innovative aerospace technology, including a new imaging sensor from Owl Autonomous Systems. Credit: Owl Autonomous Systems.

Entrepreneurs developing lightweight propulsion systems for satellites, cybersecurity for Linux, wireless power and a blockchain application for secure part procurement, among other emerging technologies, presented their technologies to investors, the military and industry. In 10-minute intervals, the company representatives pitched their early stage, aerospace-related technologies at Starburst Accelerator’s third U.S. Virtual Selection Committee meeting on July 9th, which was held virtually. Headquartered in Paris, Starburst's U.S. team brought in the eight hopeful companies, all vying for partnership agreements, venture capitalist funding and a chance to join Starburst's Accelerator Program.

July 1, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
The Lightweight Surface Manipulator System (LSMS), a surface version of TALISMAN, would help offload lunar landers and construct facilities on the Moon.  NASA

Robots have led the way for human space exploration, and NASA is counting on them to serve as partners in the next round of endeavors. The space agency is teaming with industry on new technologies that will develop innovative robotic systems and offer capabilities that are key to expanding the reach of humans beyond Earth.

July 1, 2020
By George I. Seffers
In the future, just watching human behavior may be enough for robots to learn to perform some duties.  releon8211/Shutterstock

Robots may one day learn to perform complex tasks simply by watching humans accomplish those tasks. That ability will allow people without programming skills to teach artificial intelligence systems to conduct certain functions or missions.

Teaching artificial intelligence systems or robots usually requires software engineers. Those programmers normally interview domain experts on what they need the machines to do and then translate that information into programming language, explains Ankit Shah, a graduate student in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AeroAstro) and the Interactive Robotics Group at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

July 1, 2020
By Shaun Waterman
Lockheed Martin engineers work on the GPS IIR satellites for the U.S. Air Force. Lockheed Martin designed and built 21 GPS IIR satellites and subsequently modernized eight of those spacecraft, designated GPS IIR-M, to enhance operations and navigation signal performance.   Courtesy Lockheed Martin

The U.S. Defense Department is increasingly using digital replicas to make predictions about the performance of complex weapons systems such as satellites or jet engines and to train artificial intelligence how to fly high-performance aircraft.

Last year, the U.S. Air Force used this digital twin technology to assess the cyber vulnerabilities of global positioning system (GPS) satellites for the first time. Advocates say the same approach can be used in training artificial intelligence (AI) and can be employed for predictive maintenance to determine when vital parts of an engine might be at risk of failure.

July 1, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
NASA is embracing a slightly different risk profile for its MoonRanger robot that will explore ice fields on the lunar south pole.  NASA

The current development of particular robots for NASA represents a methodical shift in how some Lunar or Martian vehicles are designed and how the related components or systems are included to support vehicle operation. Carnegie Mellon University and Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic are working on a lunar robot for NASA’s Lunar Surface and Instrumentation and Technology Payload program, or LSITP, that is small, fast, solar-powered and will not be teleoperated nor radiation-hardened, which is quite a change from more risk-adverse prior methods.

July 1, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Collaborative 3D digital games are a great platform for developing human-non human teaming capabilities, says Julie Marble, senior scientist at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.  JHU APL

Scientists conducting basic research at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory are examining how to build characteristics into a robotic system to improve human-nonhuman teaming. While artificial intelligence and machine learning applications can be trained to perform a task, those kinds of systems are not yet able to collaborate with humans and cannot anticipate human intent or what they will do.

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