Advanced long-distance communication solutions are needed for the military of the future, especially for operations in contested environments. Innovative high frequency solutions offer communication over long distances in real time and provide an alternative to satellite communications. The U.S. military and industry are working to harness wideband high frequency technologies, which can offer higher data rates on a single high frequency communications channel.
Link 16 is a secure system protocol that allows different military users to share data over the same network.
But like any good thing, everybody wants a piece of the action. As the popularity of Link 16 grows to include more platforms (ships, aircraft, vehicles, drones, etc.) and individual users, it will be important to expand Link 16 capabilities to help U.S. and coalition military forces adjust to new mission needs, enhance situational awareness, adapt to new technologies and improve warfighter safety.
Scientists at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, Maryland, are preparing robots that can talk with soldiers, navigate in a “socially compliant” manner and learn from demonstration. The effort to enable robots to take verbal instruction, complete a series of complex tasks and maneuver in the same environments as soldiers is all part of the Army’s long-term endeavor to create fully skilled battlefield operators that work with warfighters, say Ethan Stump and John Rogers, roboticists at the Army Research Lab (ARL).
Years of experimentation by Army scientists and academic laboratories have led to a new generation of robots that feature advanced capabilities bordering on human reasoning. These mechanisms are able to autonomously perform complex tasks in part by learning how to ape human behavior. Scientists have generated algorithms that teach robots both to perform complex functions and also learn from humans as they evolve digitally.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is experimenting with underground robotic capabilities through its three-year contest—the Subterranean Challenge, also called SubT. This competition aims to spur tactical communications, mapping and search-related robotic technologies for use in subterranean environments.
Advances in sensor mechanics and the advent of artificial intelligence have cleared the way for robots to play an increasingly greater role in military operations. Their growing versatility allows them to serve multiple functions in the military, from basic assistance to assumption of full combat roles. They can inter alia, lighten a warfighter’s load, provide search and rescue capabilities, perform surveillance missions, engage in casual evacuation, provide resupply and conduct hazardous route reconnaissance. Within 10 years, we may see them driving supply vehicles in convoys.
Well, 2019 has flown right by, and so my monthly column for SIGNAL Magazine comes to a close. It has truly been a privilege to present these columns to the AFCEA community. I hope they sparked some fresh thinking about the many changes and innovations we see all around us. The U.S. military community is at an inflection point, and it is critical that we continue these important discussions into the future.
The ability to train top U.S. military aviators in air-to-air combat usually requires pilots acting as opposing aerial fighters. Representing the enemy in training dogfights is quite costly and dangerous, says Daniel Robinson, RAF (Ret.). Robinson, co-founder and CEO of Red6 Aerospace, developed an augmented reality platform, called Airborne Tactical Augmented Reality System, known as A-TARS, that creates virtual opponents, such as the Chinese J-20, for pilots to dogfight against.
The necessity of multidomain operations to combat near-peer adversaries in the future dictates that the U.S. military fight together seamlessly across the air, land, sea, space and cyber environments. The services must be able to generate offensive and defensive effects from all of these domains, with systems in one environment supporting operations in another domain, said Gen. Mike Holmes, USAF, commander, Air Combat Command, speaking Tuesday at AFCEA International and IEEE’s MILCOM conference in Norfolk, Virginia.
As the U.S. Air Force is working to define operations on the battlefield of the future, sensors or other digitally connected devices will play a key role—as they always have—but on a much larger scale, one expert says. For the military, the world of Internet of Things, or IoT, has to work across the air, land, space and sea domains. And for the Air Force to enable a greater sensor-based environment, it has to tackle data platforms, cloud storage and capabilities, communication infrastructure and its network, says Lauren Knausenberger, the Air Force’s chief transformation officer.
The U.S. Defense Department could one day place thousands of low-cost, floating sensors into the ocean to collect environmental data, such as water temperature, as well as activity data about commercial vessels, aircraft and even fish or maritime mammals moving through the area. But others also are dropping similar sensors in the world’s oceans, and defense researchers suggest many of those systems could be integrated into an even more comprehensive ocean-based Internet of Things.
The U.S. Army is looking toward the Internet of Things to reshape the future force for multidomain operations. Faced with the challenge of networking vast amounts of diverse sensors, the service views this type of networking as the solution to greater efficiency combined with increased capability.
Bruce D. Jette, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, emphasizes the importance of the Internet of Things (IoT) approach across the service. “The IoT has the potential to greatly improve and economize the way we will operate as an Army in the future,” he declares.
The California Consumer Privacy Act gives the state’s residents the ability to see and control the personal data companies have, share and sell. The privacy act started as a ballot initiative in early 2018 and was signed into law just a few months later in June. After first-round amendments were approved, the effective date was set as January 1, 2020, with an enforcement of July 1, 2020.
Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories launched a seven-year mission campaign this month to develop the science, technology and architecture needed for autonomous satellite protection systems.
Autonomous vehicles that can clear debris from roads, move containers after determining their contents and scuttle across rough terrain amid changing environments have emerged as the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) marked 10 years of collaborative research with industry and academia. The goals reached in the capstone of the Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance (RCTA) were presented at the Carnegie Mellon University National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) in Pittsburgh, as the ARL demonstrated several robots designed around Army battlefield needs.
Advanced manufacturing techniques could inject innovation into the defense industry, suggested Bruce Jette, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology.
“We have a problem with the industrial base, particularly for the defense industry,” Jette told the audience at the Association of the United States Army annual conference in Washington, D.C. He added that the industrial base still conjures images of “large, smoking cauldrons of steel” because “that’s what we drove them to.”
Jette further noted that the industrial base “has some gaps in it because we haven’t been producing large equipment systems in a long time.”
A small business with a prestigious board of directors is the second firm selected in an AFCEA Small Business Innovation Showcase competition June 7 to uncover innovative emerging technologies. The company, ClearForce of Vienna, Virginia, won against three other firms with its proprietary technology for seeking out employees who might be motivated to commit insider crimes deliberately as well as accidentally.
A technology that provides network-wide encryption throughout the existence of its information was identified as the winner of the latest AFCEA Innovation Showcase. The competition was the second in a series of individual competitions running into the fall.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is seeing initial success from its Blackjack program, according to Paul “Rusty” Thomas, program manager. The research agency is developing a subset of a constellation, 20 low Earth orbit (LEO) globe-to-globe satellites, to demonstrate a new way of building out space systems.
“We are looking at how we might do space architecture differently,” said Thomas. “We want to limit the integration time, so we can actually get to the point where a payload might not even know what bus it is going to go on, and you can actually think of the payload as the mission.”