Technology

August 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Blockchain technology has evolved to become an effective back office tool of information assurance, experts say. Credit: Shutterstock/phive

Blockchain, the digital ledger technology, offers an immutable record of a transaction based on a distributed consensus algorithm. The technology gained notoriety through the use of bitcoin, the digital commodity. However, experts say that the blockchain technology has moved well beyond its initial underpinning role. “Bitcoin is basically like the Model T of blockchain technology, because it was the first one,” says Lee McKnight, associate professor, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York.

August 1, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
A soldier operates systems in a simulated tank while scientists at the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) monitor his brain waves. This work by the ARL’s Combat Capabilities Development Center seeks to establish how artificial intelligence can be employed to address a soldier’s needs by determining changes in the human’s mood.  ARL photo

A future iteration of artificial intelligence would measure a soldier’s cognitive and physical state and trigger actions that would support, or even save, the individual in combat. These actions might direct the human on a different course, or ultimately initiate activities that complete the soldier’s mission or protect the individual in combat.

August 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Credit: Shutterstock/MDOGAN

Congressional leaders guiding the Congressional Blockchain Caucus are finding that part of their informative role necessitates distinguishing between the infamous dark web capabilities of digital commodities and the groundbreaking capabilities that a blockchain platform can offer as an advanced technology.

Blockchain, also described as a distributed cryptographic digital ledger, provides a verified record of transactions that is immutable or unchangeable. Legislators purport that the powerful capability, which some say could transform the economy, can be applied well beyond digital commodities for use in such sectors as healthcare, defense, supply chain management and cybersecurity.

July 17, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
Scientists at the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) monitor a soldier’s brainwaves as he operates systems in a simulated tank. The work seeks to understand thought patterns and physical states during combat pursuant to teaming the soldier with artificial intelligence.

U.S. Army scientists are learning more about how the human brain functions so they can team its bearer with artificial intelligence (AI). The goal is for AI to understand a soldier’s moods and feelings and adjust its own actions accordingly.

Researchers aim for a future iteration of AI that would measure a soldier’s cognitive and physical state and trigger actions that would support, or even save, the individual in combat. These actions might direct the human on a different course, or ultimately initiate activities that complete the soldier’s mission or protect the individual in combat.

July 17, 2019
Posted by Julianne Simpson
A micro-bristle-bot is shown next to a U.S. penny for size comparison. Credit: Allison Carter, Georgia Tech

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have created a new type of tiny 3D-printed robot that moves by harnessing the vibration from piezoelectric actuators, ultrasound sources or even tiny speakers.

The size of the world’s smallest ant, these “micro-bristle-bots” could sense changes in the environment and swarm together to move materials—or perhaps one day repair injuries inside the human body.

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.

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