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A Soldier throws a Recon Robotics Recon Scout Throwbot XT robot

Robots are a perfect tool to provide soldiers in the field with “eyes” on a potentially hazardous situation without placing themselves in harm’s way. With soldiers often operating in difficult terrain or entering buildings, the easiest way to get such robots into place is to throw them. Currently, many units use a small tactical robot called the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle 320 that is equipped with video reconnaissance technology. However, this robot weighs 32 pounds (14.5 kg) so the call has been put out for a lighter robot that is more easily transportable by dismounted units on the move and is able to be thrown into forward locations such as buildings and caves. To this end, the U.S. military is set to put three different types of lightweight, “throwable” robots through a series of combat assessments in Afghanistan.  Read More

The Hybrid Air Vehicles heavy-lifter in Discovery Air livery

The famous and well documented Hindenburg disaster of 1937, when the hydrogen-filled airship burst into flames whilst attempting to tether to its moorings in New Jersey, killed off the 'lighter-than-air' aircraft industry, as well as 35 unfortunate souls. Since the 1970's however, a determined band of, mostly British, aviation engineers has been battling to design and build a commercially viable 'air vehicle'. Many false starts, experimental craft and research projects followed (funded mostly by the U.S. military) but viability remained elusive, until now.  Read More

The SMSS Block I variant is heading to Afghanistan for a military evaluation

As a result of winning the Project Workhorse Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) competition sponsored by the U.S. Army, four Lockheed Martin Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) vehicles will be sent to Afghanistan as part of a three-month Military Utility Assessment (MUA). The 11-foot-long (3.3 m) SMSS, which can carry more than half-a-ton of a squad’s equipment on rugged terrain, will be the largest autonomous ground vehicle ever to be deployed with infantry.  Read More

Long Distance Tele-Operation technology will allow UGVs such as the TALON robot to be cont...

The U.S. military is currently able to operate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in far away countries from the U.S., while ground robotic systems such as the TALON can be remotely operated at distances of up to 1,000 m (3,280 ft). Now U.S. Army engineers have provided unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) with the long distance tele-operation capabilities of a UAS to allow them to be controlled from anywhere in the world and keep soldiers even further out of harm’s way.  Read More

Maj. Brian Egloff puts a sock on an 8-year-old Afghan boy to aid the fitting of the protot...

While we’ve covered many developments in the field of prosthetics, such high-tech advances are beyond the reach of those in the developing world where the rates of amputation due to war are highest. Now U.S. Army soldiers stationed in Afghanistan have developed a simple prototype prosthetic leg that can be constructed using local resources to allow the victims of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and land mines to get back on their feet quickly and cheaply.  Read More

Lockheed Martin's ruggedized HULC robotic exoskeleton

Following lab evaluation tests, Lockheed Martin’s ruggedized HULC (Human Universal Load Carrier) robotic exoskeleton is now undergoing biomechanical testing at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Natick, Massachusetts. The biomechanical testing will assess the effectiveness of the HULC in improving the endurance and reducing the risk of injury to soldiers by comparing the performance of soldiers carrying identical loads, both with and without the device.  Read More

The Base Camp System Integration Laboratory, or SIL, at Fort Devens, Massachusetts (Image:...

The U.S. Army has opened a System Integration Laboratory (SIL) at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, modeled after forward operating bases in Iraq and Afghanistan to test technologies aimed at creating more energy-efficient base camps. The various energy-efficient technologies being tested are expected to reduce base camp fuel requirements by 20 percent or more and water demand by up to 75 percent.  Read More

Newly-created polymers liquefy and fill in scratches when exposed to UV light, then resoli...

Nobody likes scratches in their car's finish. That's part of the reason why over the years, a number of research facilities have tried to develop self-healing paint. These efforts have resulted in products containing things such as microcapsules that burst open when scratched, elastic resins, and even a chemical derived from the exoskeletons of crustaceans. Now, scientists from the U.S. and Switzerland have developed polymers – which could be used in paint – that heal their own scratches when exposed to ultraviolet light.  Read More

The Individual Gunshot Detector (IGD) uses the sound waves generated by enemy gunfire to p...

In the heat of battle I imagine things can get pretty hectic and pinpointing just where the shooting is coming from as quickly as possible could mean the difference between life and death. To give its soldiers an edge in this regard the U.S. Army will begin providing its forces in Afghanistan with the first of 13,000 gunshot detection systems later this month. The Individual Gunshot Detector (IGD) uses the sound waves generated by enemy gunfire to instantaneously determine the location and distance toward the enemy fire.  Read More

Robotics company Boston Dynamics has been awarded a contract to develop a military quadrup...

It would be scary to be chased by a military robot. It would also be scary to be chased by a cheetah. So, imagine what it would be like to have a military robotic cheetah sprinting after you. Such a scenario could one day be possible, as robotics company Boston Dynamics recently announced that America’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded it a contract to design and build such a ... critter. The contract also includes the creation of an agile, bipedal humanoid robot. It’s hard to say which one might ultimately be creepier.  Read More

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