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28 Nov 18. These drone swarms survived without GPS. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said it successfully demonstrated the ability of drone swarms to operate in the face of enemy jamming. DARPA’s Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) program seeks to develop sophisticated software to enable groups of existing unmanned systems to work together, under a single person’s control, as they conduct operations in denied or contested airspace. The goal is for CODE’s human operator to monitor the swarm without micromanaging it, and instead to allow the autonomous drones to improvise and adjust as they pursue their mission. The program manager has compared CODE technology to wolves hunting in coordinated packs.
DARPA tested the technology during a recent three-week series of exercises at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. The CODE systems, which included as many as six live and 24 virtual drones, collaborated to navigate, search, and engage both pre-planned and pop-up targets. According to a Nov. 19 release from the agency, the CODE-equipped systems demonstrated an ability to “adapt and respond to unexpected threats in an anti-access area denial environment.” This included preventing communications and GPS signals.
When communications were degraded or denied, CODE vehicles were able to maintain their mission plan and accomplish mission objectives without direction from humans, the agency said.
“The test series expanded on previously demonstrated approaches to low bandwidth collaborative sensing and on-board planning. It demonstrated the ability to operate in more challenging scenarios, where both communications and GPS navigation were denied for extended periods,” said Scott Wierzbanowski, DARPA program manager for CODE.
The CODE program will continue under DARPA until it’s anticipated conclusion in spring 2019. The program’s software repository will then be transitioned to the Naval Air Systems Command. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
28 Nov 18. US Army imagines automation as seamless as in a strategy game. The slide clicks into place like a screen from an early 2000s video game, the audience peering over a contested valley through the perch of a tank commander. Another click, and the unknown tanks and infantry are clear, as our tank-commanding avatar holds a tablet with the enemy positions illuminated in red. Finding these enemies are an array of systems, from satellites to drone swarms to uncrewed reconnaissance vehicles on the ground. Another click, and the hostile forces on the screen are replaced by scorch marks, the tank commander’s tablet illuminated with the range of strikes called in from air and land forces.
At the Army Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence Symposium & Exposition, put on by the Association of the United States Army, PowerPoint imitates video game imitating war. Panelists here in Detroit spoke to a packed hall about how, exactly, they were hoping robotics, autonomy, and AI could change the battlefields of the future.
While it exists in simulations and in games, perfect information on a battlefield remains an impossibility. Creating a “red force tracker;” that is, an intelligence collection process that provides real time information on where enemies are at all times, is a technological fantasy. But it is one that could get closer to reality with autonomous robots scouting and providing information. This would take a great degree of information synthesis and distillation at the point of collection to work.
So how to get there? Not bound to the technology of today, panelist Armin Krishnan, author of the book “Killer Robots: Legality and Ethicality of Autonomous Weapons” drafted something of a conceptual wishlist for the robots of future wars.
Looking to the 2030s and beyond, Krishnan pictured all-electric vehicles, thanks to the lower logistical burden and fewer moving parts of an electric vehicle. To maximize electricity as the sole resource of the machine, he suggested weapons that don’t jam (think electromagnetic rail guns or directed energy weapons). These weapons, drawing on battery power, could allow vehicles to travel a range orders of magnitude greater than what is available today.
Rather than remote-control or teleoperated machines, Krishnan imagined future machines as autonomous enough to require little human supervision, employ complex tactics, and to allow for a high degree of coordination with little need for communication.
“They would work as an extension of the soldier’s self or body,” said Krishnan. The best way to control “unmanned systems would be through brain computer interfaces, to take advantage of superior human cognitive abilities and combine [them] with the speed and precision of machines.”
That brain-machine interface may conjure images of electrode-helmeted soldiers with furrowing brows to directly steer a robot, and while that scenario is not implausible, there are other ways to get computers to interpret commands from humans as well as humans do.
“If we want to reduce cognitive load, we have to get the equivalent of Siri for robots,” said Robert W. Sadowski, chief roboticist for the Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center. “We have to get the same interaction from a human-computer interface that a tank commander has with its driver, where it can maneuver in that space.”
That means not just language processing skills, but even the ability to interpret gestures, and to do all of this while being commanded by a human, but not piloted by one.
“At the end of that process, I need to have hand and arm gestures understood as well,” said Sadowski. “And it has to maneuver by itself in restricted terrain, because I don’t want to have to take have the fire team out to do teleoperations.”
Think back to the example of the tablet-commanded robot scouts and called-in strikes earlier. This is a vision of military command where a human sits at the center of an autonomous body of sensors, perhaps gives them objectives but not specific targets, and then lets the machines process information to convert objects recorded with cameras into coordinates for where airplanes and artillery should place explosives. It’s a vision of war almost as seamless as a round of StarCraft or Command & Conquer, real time strategy moved from idle amusement to battlefield practice. Almost as seamless. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
28 Nov 18. Remote GeoSystems adds capability to LineVision Desktop software. Remote GeoSystems has upgraded its LineVision Desktop software suite to support map-based playback of Motion Imagery Standards Board (MISB) – Full Motion Video (FMV)-compliant videos. The upgraded software suite is designed to enable display of the current video frame’s location outline moving on a map as well as the aircraft’s location.
“Often larger commercial and military drones used in beyond visual line of site operations and manned aircraft are equipped with a gyro-stabilised gimbal camera system capable of generating MISB (STANAG 4609) metadata in the video stream,” Remote GeoSystems said.
LineVision Desktop software can import those MISB FMV files and read the metadata to calculate and display a dynamic ‘footprint’ along with the camera target frame centre. This capability provides analysts and subject matter experts the location of asset conditions or situational awareness on the ground, Remote GeoSystems said.
“LineVision Desktop is a stand-alone set of software applications that leverages Esri ArcGIS mapping technology to map, analyse, and then create immersive and interactive as well as traditional reports with geotagged videos, photos, annotations, documents, shapefiles, aerial imagery as well as other enterprise GIS data sources,” Remote GeoSystems said. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
28 Nov 18. Prototype UH-X helo to undergo tests, with plans to produce 150 units for Japanese forces. Japan’s Subaru Corporation is conducting ground tests with its prototype UH-X helicopter, which is slated to replace the Fuji Heavy Industries/Bell UH-1J utility helicopter in Japanese service. According to Ayako Nakajima with Subaru’s defense programs division, the first prototype UH-X helicopter, which is based on the Bell 412EP family, has been built and is undergoing ground testing. These ground tests will be followed by its first flight and delivery to the Japanese government, which is expected in early 2019. A Japanese photographer last week published an photo of the prototype with its engines running on the ground at Subaru’s facility in Utsunomiya, north of Tokyo.
The maiden flight will lead to the full-scale production of 150 UH-X helicopters for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, which plans to use the aircraft in a variety of missions, including disaster relief.
Subaru, then known as Fuji Heavy Industries, won Japan’s UH-X tender in 2015 in partnership with Bell with an entry based on the Bell 412EPI variant. Subaru has since developed the Bell 412EPX featuring improved torque at low speeds, increased gross weights and a more robust gearbox that will be used for the UH-X and offered for sale to civilian operators.
When contacted for comment, George Trautman, an adviser to Bell, told Defense News at the show that “so far the program has been very successful and we have no reason to think that the 412EPX won’t be an incredible machine for both commercial and military use in Japan.” (Source: Defense News)
29 Nov 18. ST Engineering and the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a strategic growth partnership.
- The partnership aims to build new engines of growth by creating globally competitive industry ecosystems in Singapore. EDB aims to nurture and grow large Singapore enterprises that will drive economic development outcomes for Singapore as they succeed in global markets. ST Engineering aspires to become a global technology, defence and engineering powerhouse — including through partnerships with companies, agencies and research institutions.
- ST Engineering and EDB will work closely to identify and develop growth strategies for targeted industries, such as robotics, smart mobility and health tech, which could be globally competitive business areas for Singapore and ST Engineering. ST Engineering will lead or participate in consortia/alliances with MNCs, local large enterprises, SMEs and start-ups to offer end-to-end solutions. This includes collaborating with external technology partners to innovate and commercialise new products, services and solutions internationally. The partnership will also catalyse engagements with other key stakeholders such as regulators and lead demand users to build a strong track record for Singaporean companies to compete globally.
- The partnership will further deepen ST Engineering’s capabilities in technology and innovation, including growing strategic technology centres such as in data analytics and cyber security. It will also further strengthen ST Engineering’s global leadership and workforce, in tandem with its global ambitions. The partnership will expand EDB’s efforts to develop a cluster of global-ready companies in Singapore, with a world-class workforce that is future-ready and equipped with both breadth and depth in technology and engineering capabilities.
- “Helping Singapore enterprises succeed in growth areas and international markets is a key element of EDB’s agenda, as they are key to innovation-led growth,” said Mr Chng Kai Fong, Managing Director, EDB. “By supporting ST Engineering in its efforts to grow and expand, we hope to create opportunities for like-minded partners to come into the ecosystem and build stronger business offerings together, so that Singapore can compete and benefit from the growth of these industries globally.”
- Said Vincent Chong, President & CEO, ST Engineering, “The new economy calls for Singapore companies to go global as a network for synergies, competitiveness and agility. As a global technology, defence and engineering Group, we collaborate extensively with partners and spearhead ecosystems. We welcome this opportunity to work with EDB to champion industry ecosystems and drive the success of global businesses in domains that support the growth of Singapore, while delivering value for our customers and partners.”
29 Nov 18. Thales Digital Factory expands to Singapore. Thales has announced the addition of Singapore to its Digital Factory network to accelerate innovation and digital transformation for the Group and its customers, in Asia-Pacific. Known for its technology investments, vibrant ecosystem and connectivity, Singapore is a prime destination for innovation to thrive. The country is building an environment to spur Singapore-based companies to innovate and believes that digital investments can help Singapore capture value and create new opportunities. The Digital Factory in Singapore will allow Thales to leverage its innovative services in aerospace, space, ground transportation, defence and security.
- After France and Canada, Singapore becomes the third country to welcome the Thales Digital Factory.
- The Digital Factory will deliver innovative digital solutions to Thales customers in the region in a collaborative way. Whenever appropriate, those products will then be offered to other customers throughout the world.
- The Singapore site represents an investment of over 20m Euros.
28 Nov 18. C&K, one of the world’s most trusted brands of high-reliability connectors, announces the launch of its space-grade D-Subminiature surface mount termination (SMT) range of electrical connectors. The new SMT D-Sub connectors under CS-FR053 specification are primarily intended for aerospace engineering applications such as developing communication and network ports for satellites, spacecraft and launchers. Reducing weight and making space savings on PCBs are critical requirements for connectors in space and military avionics applications, together with ensuring straightforward implementation and operational reliability. By utilizing SMT, C&K’s D-Sub connectors do not require plated holes to be drilled into the PCB, and free up one side for use by other components, resulting in a simpler, lighter design and a miniaturized footprint overall. Constructed from a single part of machined aluminium shell, this latest series of connectors draws on C&K’s in-house technological expertise to achieve a smaller form factor than the traditional six-part copper-alloy stamped shell method. This means they can achieve up to 50% less weight compared to standard through-hole technology (THT) connectors. This construction technology also delivers better dimensional capability.
“With its combination of robustness, light weight and small form factor, the SMT D-Sub connectors are in a class of their own in the space and high-performance aerospace applications market,” said Rémi ANTOINE, Global Product Manager and Aerospace Segment Leader.
The D-Sub product lines conform to European Space Agency (ESA) standards and are qualified to the ESA/European Space Components Coordination (ESCC) code 3401. There are a large number of layouts available to serve most mounting configurations.
27 Nov 18. Vendors showcase defense tech for France’s new innovation agency. The first Forum for Innovation in Defense opened its doors for three days in Paris on Nov. 22 to exhibit 160 innovations with defense and civil applications. The event was the first showcase for the new French Agency for Innovation in Defense, headed by Emmanuel Chiva. The agency is part of the DGA procurement arm but has its own €1.2bn ($1.86bn) budget to detect innovative ideas and accelerate their transfer into the defense ministry. Created on Sept. 1, 2018, the outfit will be fully operational by Jan. 1, 2019.
The projects on display were grouped into seven sectors: Tomorrow’s spy; Tomorrow’s war; Innovating for every day; Towards the invisibility cape; Innovating for the human; Beyond the horizon and the Defense Innovation Agency. They ranged from a bionic leg to a wearable air-bag, from an invisibility cape to the automatic analysis of images.
Among the slew of innovations, here are five noteworthy technologies:
The 100-year old, family-held company Proteor won the event competition with its version of a bionic leg. Eric Archambeaud, the company’s industrial director, called the prosthetic system “disruptive” in a brief interview with Defense News. “There is no equivalent in the world because it allows above-the-knee amputees to have a knee, feet and ankles which, for the first time, are all integrated.” The system, almost ready to market, is powered by batteries which last a week, rechargeable with a USB plug.
A technology named Cameleon renders a vehicle “hard to see” in both the visible and infrared spectra. Developed by Nexter, the French branch of the Franco-German KNDS vehicle systems group, the system connects tiles in a network piloted by a computer linked to a camera which films the surrounding landscape. The computer analyzes and decomposes the images to generate onto the tiles colors and textures that resemble the actual surroundings. Eric Petitpas, the program manager, explained “that the computer will be capable of deep learning to perfect the system.” Currently at Technical Readiness Level (TRL) 4, the aim is to reach a market-ready level 7 by 2025 or 2026.
Earth Cube, a 30-person startup founded by Renaud Allioux and Arnaud Guerin in 2016, uses the latest advances in medical imagery and artificial intelligence and applies them to automatically classify objects, detect changes and analyze scenes. The objective is to offload the drudge work for image analysts by only offering images which feature whatever it is the analyst is looking for: tanks, combat aircraft, a new building, for example.
RXR Protect, a three-person enterprise, has developed a wearable airbag that looks a bit like bubble wrap to be worn under a bullet-proof vest. “The idea is to dissipate the bullet’s kinetic energy which can cause the wearer severe injury despite the bullet not penetrating the vest,” explains David Schuller, the company’s CEO. A prototype will be presented to the DGA next April.
The Defense Health Service is interested in the so-called MedPack, which has won its inventor and developer Samuel Mercier, a nurse with the Paris military fire-brigade, several prizes. Already used by some Parisian first responders, the 8 kg MedPack takes five seconds to open on its tripod revealing a complete medical kit for treating patients. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
27 Nov 18. Joint Aus-UK call for advanced materials research proposals. Australia’s DST and the UK’s Defence and Security Accelerator are calling for research proposals from SMEs and universities to support the development and integration of advanced materials onto military platforms. The funding is part of a joint initiative between Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Group (DST) and the UK’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) to discover innovative joining technologies that address the challenging demands of integrating advanced materials into existing or planned military platforms and technologies.
Initial funding of up to $900,000 is available as part of the Australian government’s Next Generation Technologies Fund (NGTF) through the Small Business Innovation Research for Defence (SBIRD) program, with a focus on a number of key areas, including:
- New adhesives to improve the longevity of body armour;
- New methods for producing graded materials; or
- Advanced bonding processes for integrating new joining techniques into existing structures and equipment.
A variety of materials are within the scope of the program, including joining combinations of composites, metals, ceramics and polymers, supporting the integration of above mentioned applications.
The focus of the collaboration is to promote innovative joining solutions, which will provide enhanced capability through improved performance and increased operational durability.
The SBIRD program supports SMEs work on research projects aligned with key defence priorities through the NGTF. SBIRD projects may relate to specific challenges identified by Defence, or have a broader scope across an emerging technology field with the potential for disruptive innovation and capability improvement.
SBIRD is a merit-based program with two direct phases:
- Stage 1: Specific challenges will be identified for each round, addressing a future Defence problem. Initial funding will allow research to be undertaken to assess the feasibility of the idea.
- Stage 2: Further funding will be provided for research into testing the idea against the application (potentially proof of concept). Depending on the status of the technology, an invited proposal for stage two might be taken up within SBIRD as a research-based project, or taken up by the Defence Innovation Hub for maturation support and accelerated commercialisation.
Applications for the advanced materials collaboration program open on 28 November 2018 and close 1 February 2019. (Source: Defence Connect)
20 Nov 18. DARPA looks to ‘less-explored’ blockchain uses. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants to get a better handle on what it calls the “distributed consensus protocols” behind blockchain to see how they can improve security, storage and computing in the Defense Department. In a Nov. 19 request for information, DARPA said it wants feedback on three “less-explored avenues” of the technology that might inform a future program: Incentivizing participation without money. Whereas Bitcoin miners are paid for their work verifying the accuracy of transactions, DARPA is interested in ways to analyze participants’ contributions and fairly reward them with something of value besides currency. Economics-driven security models. The research agency wants insight into approaches that support the idea that participants — such as Bitcoin miners — work to make money (an economic notion), rather than for the either honest or malicious reasons that computer science literature traditionally subscribes to participants.
Centralized aspects. Although consensus protocols operate as large-scale distributed systems, there may be some centralized aspects — such as codebases, network topologies or pool of developers — that could influence the security of the entire system. Responses are due Dec. 20. DARPA intends to hold a workshop in mid-February 2019 based upon responses to this solicitation. (Source: Defense Systems)
Oxley Group Ltd
Oxley specialises in the design and manufacture of advanced electronic and electro-optic components and systems for air, land and sea applications within the military sector. Established in 1942, Oxley has manufacturing facilities in the UK and USA and enjoys representation worldwide. The company’s products include night vision and LED lighting, data capture systems and electronic components. Oxley has pioneered the development of night vision compatible lighting. It offers a total package incorporating optical filters, equipment modification, cockpit and external lighting along with fleet wide upgrade services including engineering, installation, support, maintenance and training. The company’s long experience of manufacturing night vision lighting and LED indicators, coupled with advances in LED technology, has enabled it to develop LED solutions to replace incandescent and fluorescent lighting in existing applications as well as becoming the lighting option of choice in new applications such as portable military hospitals, UAV control stations and communication shelters.