research and development

October 28, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The Tactical Assault Kit (TAK) is a map-based software application that enables coordination among thousands of users with features such as a position data, chat, mission planning and shared overlays. Army researchers say it is being integrated with unmanned vehicles, virtual reality, wearable computers and heads up displays. Credit: U.S. Army CCDC C5ISR Center

The U.S. Army’s infinitely adaptable situational awareness tool created a decade ago continues to find new uses thanks to artificial intelligence, wearable computers, virtual reality, unmanned systems and other cutting-edge technologies.

The Tactical Assault Kit (TAK) is a map-based software application that enables coordination among thousands of users with features such as a position data, chat, mission planning and shared overlays. It is compatible with Android, Apple iOS and Windows. The Air Force, FBI, Secret Service, U.S. Park Police and Special Operations Forces are among the organizations that have customized it for their own purposes.

September 1, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Unmanned aircraft have proved immensely valuable to the military and to intelligence agencies, but they are sometimes too noisy for stealthy reconnaissance. The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity is developing a silent and miniature aerial drone known as the Little Horned Owl. Credit: U.S. Defense Department photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeffrey S. Viano, U.S. Navy

The cloud computing infrastructure at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity allowed the organization to pivot to a new teleworking norm during the pandemic that’s not much different than the old norm. The organization has conducted business as usual, hiring program managers, adding office directors, creating and killing programs, and continuing to meet the intelligence community’s technology needs.

Catherine Marsh, director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, known as IARPA, was told on March 12 to “lean forward,” and she did, allowing almost the entire staff to telecommute beginning the next day. Even contractors work from home legally, securely and effectively.

August 25, 2020
Posted by: George I. Seffers
The X-61A unmanned aerial system successfully completed its second series of flight tests in July. The system is being developed by a Dynetics-led team under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Gremlins program. Photo courtesy of DARPA

DARPA’s Gremlins program is targeting additional tests of the X-61A vehicle later this year after meeting several primary objectives during risk reduction flights at the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah in late July. The Gremlins program seeks to develop and demonstrate air launch and air recovery of up to four unmanned aerial systems (UASs), known as Gremlins Air Vehicles, within 30 minutes.

August 12, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The U.S. Army wants to automate planning for primary, alternate, contingency and emergency (PACE) communications. A so-called intelligent engine will suffice in the short term, but over time, service officials expect artificial intelligence to conduct PACE planning.  (U.S. Army photo courtesy of the Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical)

The U.S. Army wants an automated communications planning system. In the short term, researchers expect to use an “intelligent engine” but in the future, artificial intelligence will likely take over the task.

Planning communications for different conditions is commonly known as PACE planning. The acronym stands for “primary, alternate, contingency and emergency” communications. Different situations call for different communications systems, explains Michael Brownfield, chief of the Army Future Capabilities Office within the Combat Capabilities Development Command’s research organization formally named the Command and Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center.

August 1, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Soldiers from the 5-3 Field Artillery Regiment conduct live-fire exercises with the High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System at Yakima Training Center. A lighter-weight, longer-range rocket fuel is one of the winners of the xTechSearch competition that will contribute to multidomain operations.  U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jacob Kohrs

Being surprised on the battlefield is never a good thing, but Army officials, who are focused on modernizing the force, welcome industry—especially small businesses—to offer solutions they didn’t know existed and didn’t know they needed.

The xTechSearch competition seeks novel, disruptive concepts and technologies to support the Army’s top modernization priorities, all of which contribute to the service’s vision of multidomain operations, or MDO. The MDO concept describes how the U.S. Army, as part of the joint force, can counter and defeat a near-peer adversary in all domains in the 2025-2050 timeframe.

July 24, 2020
 
Army National Guard Chaplain Lt. Col. Henry Roberson (center) gives communion to search and rescue workers across the street from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the site of a 1995 terrorist attack caused by a fertilizer bomb. The Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate is building a modeling tool that will help officials plan for and counter attacks at special events. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Marvin Krause, U.S. Air Force

The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate’s Chemical Security Analysis Center (CSAC) is developing a modeling tool that estimates the hazard and related human health consequences from thousands of plausible threat scenarios.

The tool is called the Homeland Explosive Consequence and Threat (HExCAT), and it helps public officials to plan for attacks at special events, such as parades, elections, sporting events and inaugurations. After validation and further development, it will be integrated into national- and regional-level risk analysis.

July 13, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity is evaluating two of its research programs to see if they may offer solutions for the ongoing pandemic. Credit: Corona Borealis Studio/Shutterstock

Two research programs at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency, commonly known as IARPA, are now undergoing evaluation to see if they may provide solutions to help counter the growing COVID-19 pandemic, IARPA director Catherine Marsh tells SIGNAL Magazine.

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).

April 24, 2020
 
The U.S. Army has selected the first two companies to provide two prototypical medical ventilators capable of operating in austere environments. The awards are the first under the service's xTech COVID-19 Ventilator Challenge launched earlier this month. Credit: Nhemz/Shutterstock

Spiro Devices LLC, and AirMid Critical Care Products Inc., have been awarded $100,000 prizes for their emergency ventilator designs as part of the ongoing U.S. Army’s xTech COVID-19 Ventilator Challenge launched earlier this month.

On April 5, the Army called for ideas for a low-cost, easily manufactured, deployable ventilator that could operate in austere and rural environments. In just 10 days, 150 American companies, academic institutions and individuals submitted their concepts, with a chance at winning $5,000 if invited to present their ideas. The goal of the Army xTech COVID-19 Ventilator Challenge is to produce 10,000 ventilator units within eight weeks.

April 1, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Researchers generated a 3D surface using an artificial intelligence algorithm. The ribs in the different layers of the lattice are programmed to grow and shrink in response to a change in temperature, mapping the facial features of mathematician and scientist Carl Friedrich Gauss.  Illustration combines an image by Lori Sanders/Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science with a portrait of Carl Friedrich Gauss painted by Christian Albrecht Jensen in 1840. Edited by Chris D’Elia

Researchers recently announced that they can use a groundbreaking 4D-printing process to create material capable of morphing into the likeness of a human face, the most complex shape-shifting structure ever. The research may one day lead to advances in dynamic communications, soft electronics, smart fabrics, tissue engineering for medical purposes, robotics and an array of commercial applications.

January 27, 2020
By George I. Seffers
By connecting two quantum systems, Army and University of Maryland researchers opened the door to brand new tools in the field of quantum communication, useful for timing synchronization between quantum systems, the Army has announced. (Photo credit: U.S. Army photo)

U.S. Army Research Laboratory scientists and University of Maryland researchers recently published a study showing how they combined two different quantum technologies to produce a timing synchronization tool for future quantum networks, the Army has announced. The breakthrough could lead to a hybrid quantum network that combines the best features of different types of quantum systems.

September 16, 2019
Posted by: George I. Seffers
Sandia National Laboratories researchers are ready to commercialize a nanoantenna-enabled detector on an assembled focal plane array for a thermal infrared camera. The gold nanoantennas are too small to be visible on top of the detector array.    Photo courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories

Sandia National Laboratories researchers are ready to commercialize tiny, gold antennas to help cameras and sensors deliver clearer pictures of thermal infrared radiation for everything from stars and galaxies to people, buildings and items requiring security, lab officials announced today. In a Laboratory Directed Research and Development project, a team of researchers developed a nanoantenna-enabled detector that can boost the signal of a thermal infrared camera by up to 3 times and improve image quality by reducing dark current, a major component of image noise, by 10 to 100 times.

July 15, 2019
Posted by George I. Seffers
The DHS Science and Technology Directorate is funding a $35 million, 10-year effort to create a research center of excellence focused on preventing and countering terrorist attacks. Credit: deepspace/Shutterstock

The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) announced today $35 million in funding opportunities for a new DHS Center of Excellence (COE) for Terrorism Prevention and Counterterrorism Research (TPCR). Accredited U.S. colleges and universities are invited to submit proposals as the center lead or as an individual partner to work with the lead institution in support of the center’s activities.

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 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.

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 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.

March 8, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Artificial intelligence-enabled radio technology developed with DARPA funding, could help manage scarce spectrum resources. Credit: Photo illustration created with images by geralt/Pixabay

A U.S. military-funded artificial intelligence (AI) contest that wraps up later this year may result in radio devices capable of autonomously and collaboratively sharing radio frequency spectrum for the next generation of mobile devices.

Fifth-generation (5G) cellular services are widely expected to hail a new era of greater speed, reduced latency and the ability to connect many more devices—think smart cities and the Internet of Things—and move vastly more data. The wireless revolution is fueling a voracious global demand for access to the radio frequency spectrum, but managing that increasing demand in a way that avoids interference is a challenge.

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