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— Military

DARPA announces winner in FANG challenge

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced on Monday the winner of the first challenges in its competition to design the Fast Adaptable Next-Generation Ground Vehicle (FANG). The US$1 million prize went to “Ground Systems” – a three-person group with members in Ohio, Texas and California. The first of three challenges, the purpose of the competition is to bring crowdsourcing to the problem of creating armored vehicles, with the hope of reducing the design costs by a factor of five. Read More
— Digital Cameras

DARPA developing personal LWIR cameras to give soldiers heat vision

With their ability to pick out humans by their heat signatures, long-wave infrared (LWIR) thermal imaging cameras are a valuable asset for soldiers – and alien predators. Unfortunately, non-alien built ones are expensive and so large that they need to be mounted on vehicles. In an effort to make a LWIR camera cheap and small enough for an individual soldier to carry, DARPA is working on a five-micron camera that offers a reduced size without sacrificing performance. Read More
— Mobile Technology

DARPA develops non-GPS navigation chip

The Global Positioning System (GPS) has proved a boon for those with a bad sense of direction, but the satellite-based system isn’t without its shortcomings. Something as simple as going indoors or entering a tunnel can render the system useless. That might be inconvenient for civilians, but it's potentially disastrous for military users for whom the system was originally built. DARPA is addressing such concerns with the development of a self-sufficient navigation system that can aid navigation when GPS is temporarily unavailable. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Spleen-on-a-chip could treat bloodstream infections

The spleen’s job is to filter our blood. When people are critically ill or have received traumatic injuries, however, the spleen alone is sometimes not able to remove enough of the pathogens on its own – potentially-fatal sepsis is the result. In order to help avert such an outcome in those situations, scientists from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University are developing a device known as the spleen-on-a-chip. Read More
— Robotics

DARPA developing robotic arms that can complete tasks on their own

In the past, we've seen a variety of robotic arms that can do a variety of things, from chucking cinder blocks across a room to being controlled by thought. But behind the majority of these mechanical feats was a human guiding the robot's every move, step-by-step. That might be fine inside a laboratory, but what about somewhere a little less convenient, like a war zone, for instance? That's why DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has begun development on autonomous robotic arms that require only simple commands to performs complex tasks, like searching a bag or defusing explosive devices. Read More
— Space

The "Grand Challenge" of the 100 Year Starship

It's been about 10 months since DARPA announced it had awarded seed funding to form an independent, non-governmental organization with the goal of pursuing human interstellar space flight within the next 100 years. Leaders from this "100 Year Starship" effort took to the stage recently at the South By Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas to talk a bit more about what it means to pursue such a "grand challenge." Read More
— Robotics

Humanoid CHIMP robot can go buggy rollin' on treads instead of walking

Robots either have legs, or they run on something like treads or wheels ... right? Well, not in the case of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)’s new CHIMP robot. The humanoid ‘bot does have arms and legs, allowing it to stand and carry out tasks on a human scale. When it’s time to move, however, it can hunker down on all fours and roll along on rubberized treads built into its feet and forearms – not unlike a slower, all-terrain form of buggy rollin'. Read More
— Electronics

Caltech’s chips survive laser armageddon thanks to self-healing powers

Although you are fairly unlikely to start zapping your gadgets with high-power lasers any time soon, scientists are already hard at work trying to make electronics immune to such cruelty. In another in a series of self-healing electronics breakthroughs, a team of scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) demonstrated chips capable of dealing not only with laser-inflicted physical damage but also with far more common ailments such as aging, power fluctuations, changes in temperature or load mismatch. Read More
— Military

DARPA's new 1.8-gigapixel camera is a super high-resolution eye in the sky

DARPA recently revealed information on its ARGUS-IS (Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System), a surveillance camera that uses hundreds of smartphone image sensors to record a 1.8 gigapixel image. Designed for use in an unmanned drone (probably an MQ-1 Predator), from an altitude of 20,000 ft (6,100 m) ARGUS can keep a real-time video eye on an area 4.5 miles (7.2 km) across down to a resolution of about six inches (15 cm). Read More