Technology

February 1, 2016
By George I. Seffers
The Air Force Research Laboratory and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency work together on the General Atomics High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System, an electrically driven solid-state laser.

With every U.S. military service developing battlefield lasers, the technology is poised to deliver on a decades-old promise of a relatively inexpensive weapon with unprecedented precision. Laser weapons will serve multiple purposes, from shooting down unmanned aerial vehicles, missiles, mortars and rockets to interfering with electronics and sensors. Furthermore, they can be adjusted from merely disruptive to deadly.

February 25, 2016
By Joel Dolisy

OK, your New Year’s resolutions are probably distant memories, but resolutions to improve agency IT security should be yearlong endeavors. Before gearing up to move forward with implementing new fiscal year 2016 IT initiatives, it is a best practice to conduct a security audit to establish a baseline and serve as a comparison to start thinking about how the agency’s infrastructure and applications should change, and what impact that will have on IT security throughout the year.

It’s critical to maintain a consistent focus on security all year long. Security strategies, plans and tactics must be established and shared so that IT security teams are on the same page for the defensive endeavor.

January 15, 2016
By Robert K. Ackerman
Sierra Nevada’s winged Dream Chaser is joining SpaceX’s Dragon and Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft as an unmanned resupply vehicle for the International Space Station.

Winged spacecraft are returning to NASA’s runways as the space agency awards three contracts to U.S. companies to launch cargo to the International Space Station. One of those contracts goes to Sierra Nevada Corporation for six launches of its Dream Chaser spacecraft, a small reusable winged vehicle that can land on airport runways.

February 19, 2016
By Robert K. Ackerman

The strength of the U.S. military lies in being able to combine force across domains; and the key to success in that endeavor is effective use of information. This constitutes a main element of the U.S. Navy’s strategy, according to the chief of naval operations.

Adm. John M. Richardson, USN, told the audience on the final morning of West 2016, being held in San Diego February 17-19, that this capability is “the secret sauce of the United States.” He added, “Information has to be in the DNA” of U.S. forces, and “using information sharing policy and technology would allow everyone to fill a role up to their maximum.”

February 17, 2016
George I. Seffers

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has announced the first 10 projects under the U.S. Energy Department’s High Performance Computing for Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) Program. In the coming weeks, the department will solicit the next round of proposals for qualified industry partners to compete for new funding this year.

February 12, 2016
By George F. Holland

The information technology infrastructure, processes and solutions that government agencies rely on are becoming less suitable for today’s operational, mission and business challenges, says Federal CIO Tony Scott, the government’s top chief information officer.

February 11, 2016
By David E. Meadows

No one doubts the growing importance of cybersecurity. Attackers now can penetrate virtually every aspect of society through cyberspace. Accordingly, the U.S. government has given cybersecurity a high designation relative to national security. But simply labeling the problem does not provide a solution that ultimately must be developed by a broad cooperative venture by skilled professionals across the spectrum of government, industry and academia.

February 1, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
 Lenny Tender, a research chemist at the Naval Research Laboratory, stands in front of a tank that mirrors marine environments at the Washington, D.C., facility. Partially submerged in the tank is a Hershey Kiss-shaped buoy that scientists use to develop the benthic microbial fuel cell, a persistent power supply for marine-deployed applications.

Imagine the Energizer Bunny living at the bottom of the sea. Instead of running on batteries, it keeps going, going, going because of energy harvested from the marine environment. This concept is under development as an alternative to using man-made batteries, which need to be replaced, to run oceanographic sensors.

“Our goal is to harvest energy from the marine environment to operate [them],” says Lenny Tender, a research chemist at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington, D.C.

February 1, 2016
By George I. Seffers
Air Force Research Laboratory officials are designing the high-powered microwave pulse system, which targets electronics, to fit onto a wide variety of platforms, including unmanned systems, missiles and guided munitions.

U.S. Air Force researchers are refining a first-of-its-kind airborne system that targets electronics. They seek to reduce its size and weight while also designing the technology for integration with a wide array of unmanned platforms and ensuring it doesn’t perform a metaphorical suicide via electrocution. At the same time, the service is conducting a study to establish a forward path for the high-powered microwave pulse weapon and deliver it to warfighters.

January 26, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
Dallas Goecker joins a panel discussion on mobility from Indiana via a robotic telepresence device developed by Suitable Technologies to facilitate remote collaboration. Goecker was a panelist at Mobile Tech Summit held in Washington, D.C. Photo by Mike Carpenter

The U.S. government and industry are at a critical juncture in the development of the much-anticipated fifth generation, or 5G, mobile networks slated for rollout in five years and are presented with opportunities to work in tandem to build in security measures to protect the whole of communication networks, said Rear Adm. David Simpson, USN Ret., chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission.

January 1, 2016
By George I. Seffers
Carnegie Mellon’s Crusher vehicle is capable of operating autonomously in a wide range of complex, off-road terrains. Autonomous ground vehicles face more challenges than air and naval surface vehicles, but the technology is advancing rapidly.

Future conflicts will require smart, autonomous unmanned platforms capable of delivering critical information to warfighters at blinding speed, enabling faster, more effective battlefield decisions to win wars and save lives. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory may have been ahead of their time in creating the infrastructure required for autonomous systems to rapidly provide data to warfighters.

January 13, 2016
By David E. Meadows

If you have ever worked on a team, then you understand the intrinsic need for everyone to work from the same set of terms of references, or TORs—kind of a definitive dictionary. TORs are needed even if working internationally with team members who originate from nations that use the same language, such as English, the language of the early Germanic settlers—Angles, Saxons, Jutes—of Britain.

January 1, 2016
By Sandra Jontz

It has the trappings of a science-fiction film: Robot pods soundlessly lie in wait on the ocean floor until summoned to the surface, launching drones capable of hibernating inside the capsules for years at a time. But this scenario is far from fantasy thanks to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Upward Falling Payload program.

December 16, 2015
By Eddie Garcia

Stopping insider threats has become a unifying cybersecurity mission, particularly in the defense and intelligence communities. And for good reason. While in the recent past, mention of the words insider threat conjured up the likeness of Edward Snowden, the reality is much scarier. More often than not, insider threats result from innocent people making simple mistakes rather than the common misconception of malicious employees or whistleblowers.

December 17, 2015
By George I. Seffers

The Advanced Technology Academic Research Center (ATARC), Ashburn, Virginia, has released a report, "Harnessing Big Data within the Federal Government – Findings and Recommendations of ATARC’s Big Data Innovation Lab," which offers five recommendations for government to consider while developing big data strategies.

The recommendations are:

December 16, 2015
By David E. Meadows

This is almost like an end-of-year bonus—writing about artificial intelligence, quantum technology, robotics and even electronic warfare. I miss Moore’s Law, which showed computing/processing speeds doubling every two years. And even that was a moving target—after all, two years down the road was somewhere nebulous.

Then, I wake up to press announcements December 10-11 that seem to show Moore’s Law of 24 months definitely has been revamped. Wow … and here I was blissfully thinking under Moore’s Law that, no matter what I said or wrote, I always had two years before being proved wrong. But I, like millions of others, was busy stimulating the global economy during this holiday season and was caught unaware though forewarned.

December 9, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
Even lush forest canopies could became effectively transparent with a future generation of light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technologies. Source: Shutterstock/DARPA

The Defense Department’s primary research agency seeks flat optics that could revolutionize a number of industries, from surveillance technologies to how autonomous systems sense obstacles in their surroundings, to name a few.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, put out a call for “pancaking the telescope” when it announced its Modular Optical Aperture Building Blocks (MOABB) program. That’s fancy speak for its challenge to create ultra-compact, light detection and ranging (LiDAR) systems that would be flat, lightweight, easily transportable and inexpensive, the agency states.

December 3, 2015
By Sandra Jontz

The third Inmarsat Inc., Global Xpress satellite is now fully operational after reaching its final orbital position. Activation of the third satellite in a fleet of three provides complete global coverage of the company’s program to heighten global communication capabilities on land, at sea and in the air, according to a company statement.

December 1, 2015
By Maryann Lawlor
A robot may be the ultimate innovation, extending measurements to higher frequencies while characterizing antennas faster and more easily than previous NIST facilities.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has created a robotic arm that is being used to measure the properties of antennas rapidly and accurately. The robot, formally named the Configurable Robotic Millimeter-Wave Antenna facility, may be the ultimate innovation, extending measurements to higher frequencies while characterizing antennas faster and more easily than previous NIST facilities. 

December 1, 2015
By George I. Seffers
The U.S. military already uses a variety of virtual character technologies for training warfighters. As hologram technology advances, so might its uses in modeling and simulation.

The military’s increased reliance on virtual reality to train warfighters may be converging with rapid advances in technology that will bring the holodeck of Star Trek fame closer to actuality. Holograms and similar technologies offer the possibility of realistic, cost-effective training and education for a broad array of military missions and commercial applications.

Pages