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11 Sep 19. Soldier Power from Ardica shown at DSEI. US Company Ardica showed the Editor its new hydrogen fuel technology for soldiers and vehicles at DSEI. In the many different operating environments faced by a U.S. Army soldier, one issue remains critically-constant: the need for reliable power. But in today’s technology-centric world, our soldiers carry a growing number of powered systems to do their jobs. These devices not only directly add weight that must be carried, but by extension, they also require even more energy storage be brought along. This places an unacceptable burden on U.S. Army personnel, and inspired a search for a lighter, more flexible solution.
Alane Fuel Cartridges
Ardica has developed a ruggedized, cartridge-based power system that delivers maximum reliability and flexibility over a typical 72 hour mission, at a weight savings to the soldier of more than 65% compared to conventional lithium-ion batteries. The WPS’ Alane-based cartridges are not only lightweight, but entirely safe and recyclable when spent. When more energy is required, a cartridge is simply replaced, with no impact on the other personal systems being powered.
Alane: The Future of Fuel
What if there was a fuel, abundant and affordable, that could power everything from homes to cars to smartphones? And the only byproducts were water vapor and aluminum?
It sounds like a future scenario. But it’s not. The future of fuel is here. And its name is Alane. The only question is, how you will apply it?
Chemists have known about the extraordinary energy potential of Alane for decades. Aluminum hydride was first synthesized in 1947 for use as a chemical reduction agent.
It soon became clear that this compound stored vast amounts of energy in the form of hydrogen. And when packaged properly, Alane’s energy was lightweight, long-lasting, and could be stored in virtually any shape or sized container.
Ardica Technologies was born at Stanford University in 2004 when founders Daniel Braithwaite, Tibor Fabian and Dr. Fritz Prinz saw the opportunity to use advanced fuel cell technologies to meet the growing power needs of mobile applications. While the team had outstanding design and engineering expertise, they were still looking for the fuel of the future; something with outstanding energy density, but lightweight, stable and clean. The answer was found in Alane (AlH3). Although it had been around for decades as an experimental propellant, no one had considered it as a potential power source. Connecting those dots was Ardica’s breakthrough. It was at that moment the company began its transition from a design company into a full-fledged energy organization, one dedicated to delivering an ideal, flexible source of power to an increasingly device-dependent world. Today, Ardica has married its expertise in power systems design with affordable, scalable production of Alane. The result is market-driven solutions that deliver safe, reliable and powerful energy when and where you need it. Energy continuity.
11 Sep 19. This Tactical Tablet Will Help USMC Cut Through Fog of War. Ground combat Marines will soon test an upgraded version of a tactical tablet designed to help units see through the fog of war to make decisions faster than ever before.
The Marine Air-Ground Task Force Common Handheld, or MCH, is a tablet-based communication system that helps dismounted Marines perform multiple battlefield tasks such as navigating and communicating with fellow Marines about the changing tactical situation. Marines are set to evaluate the effectiveness of the system during Island Marauder 2019 later this month, according to a recent news release from Marine Corps Systems Command.
“MCH is essentially an interactive tactical mapping program with a GPS navigation software and a chat functionality,” Maj. Richard Beeson, the tablet’s project officer at SYSCOM, said in the release. “The technology feeds the battalion’s current operational picture with real-time friendly force positions and allows this battlespace awareness to be shared down to the squad-leader level.”
Earlier this year, the Corps fielded an early-release version of the system to Marines, but the service has been conducting tests using tactical tablets for several years in exercises such as the Mobility Joint Capability Technology Demonstration back in 2015 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona.
The Corps plans to issue an updated version of the device to Marines in fiscal 2020 that allows them to communicate with one another through several joint communication systems, the release states.
Marine officials said the system will give commanders the ability to disseminate orders, graphics and digital data, providing Marines the ability to visualize the commander’s intent and scheme of maneuver.
“It helps Marines to share enemy locations in real-time in an easily understood digital, moving-map format,” Beeson said in the release.
It also enables Marines to pass messages to one another in real-time — similar to text messaging — allowing the commander to make faster, more effective, decisions, the release states.
“MCH is a command and control, situational awareness system that gives the squad leader and platoon commander a better understanding of the battlefield to make tactical decisions,” Justin Meidinger, an engineer for the tablet program, said in the release. “This system helps them have a better idea of what is going on around them.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Military.com)
12 Sep 19. Systematic introduces 3D functionality. Danish defence company Systematic will integrate a three-dimension (3D) capability into its SitaWare Edge command and control (C2) solution, officials have disclosed to Shephard at DSEI. Systematic displayed a technology demonstrator of the 3D-enabled SitaWare Edge product at its stand at the exhibition in London on 10th September. Integrated on board an agnostic end user device, the upgrade has been designed to support the operational requirements of dismounted close combat personnel working at the lowest tactical edge on the battlefield.
SitaWare Edge’s 3D functionality will be made available to existing customers by the middle of 2020, company officials confirmed to Shephard. Customers will be able to access the new upgrade free of charge through a software upgrade, it was added.
Current customers using the Android-based SitaWare Edge solution include the Danish Army, Finnish Defence Forces, and the Slovenian Army. Senior Austrian Army officers have also previously stated that the system is in service with Austrian special operations forces, Jagdkommando.
Systematic’s upgrade forms part of a wider move by the company to provide a uniform capability across its entire suite of C2 offerings which includes SitaWare ‘Headquarters’ and ‘Frontline’ products. SitaWare Headquarters was the first C2 product to feature 3D functionality with Systematic sources disclosing how SitaWare Frontline products will also be supported with the same capability in the future.
Elsewhere, Systematic continues to upgrade its SitaWare suite of products, all of which are powered by SitaWare Tactical Communications (STC) protocol, with upgraded mapping software to provide optimised visuals to end users. Upgrades are designed to increase ease of use; reduce training requirements; and provide end users with a more rapid solution.
Speaking to Shephard at DSEi on 10 September, a company spokesperson explained: ‘The potential for information overload is very real on dismounted operations, as is the risk of becoming “lost” in a system’s interface’.
‘Dismounts typically operate in conditions where communications can be limited by terrain and other physical factors, they also need systems that are capable of working in C2 Denied or Degraded Environments – especially in warfare with a near-peer,’ the spokesperson continued.
‘STC automatically optimises the use of bandwidth and recognises when it is not possible to transmit the requisite information await for windows of opportunity to do so. It is also configured to transmit large volumes of data over limited bandwidth, such as via HF communications,’ it was concluded. (Source: Shephard)
12 Sep 19. USAF Must Expand Technical Edge, Secretary Nominee Says. The Senate Armed Services Committee profoundly understands the threats great-power competition presents to U.S. interests as properly prioritized in the National Defense Strategy, the president’s choice to serve as the next Air Force secretary said at a committee hearing considering her nomination.
Barbara M. Barrett is a pilot who served as U.S. ambassador to Finland during President George W. Bush’s administration.
“China and Russia continually challenge free and open international order, impose their authoritarian model beyond their borders and attempt to undermine long-standing alliances,” Barrett told the committee.
A recent independent, bipartisan strategy commission appointed by Congress concluded that the Air Force will be at the forefront of any future conflict, she added.
“We cannot afford to lose our competitive edge. If confirmed, I would work with Congress and the administration to build upon our manpower resources to meet our national defense needs. The Air Force must not only retain its technical edge over potential adversaries, but we must expand it,” Barrett emphasized.
If confirmed, she said, she will continue investments in modernization and advanced capabilities to better equip U.S. airmen so they can prevail in the high-end fight.
“While attending to readiness, modernization and reform, I will also work closely with our allies and deepen global partnerships,” she said.
And standing up the Space Force would be a key imperative, Barrett said. “I believe we need a Space Force,” she told the senators. “In fact, in my opinion, a domain-specific service organized to train and equip space forces is overdue.”
Most Americans use space before having their first cup of coffee in the morning, she pointed out. “Space controls our electricity, our water, our financial transactions and of course, navigation, information and communication,” Barrett noted. “While space is ubiquitous, it is also invisible, and often underappreciated.”
U.S. national power depends upon space, and its potential adversaries know it, she said, adding that the United States must be prepared to defend critical space assets, increase the resilience of its space enterprise and be prepared to fight and win should deterrence fail.
“Finally, as we focus on organizing, training and equipping for combat, we cannot ignore the readiness challenges close to home,” Barrett said. The nation must support its airmen by addressing suicides, sexual assault, housing and quality of life, she added.
“Much work has been done to address these serious issues, and if confirmed, I would support and fortify those efforts,” the Air Force secretary nominee said.
Barrett said she looks forward to leading the nation’s airmen if confirmed.
“Most Americans tuck their kids in bed at night without a thought about foreign threat, because brave men and women in uniform stand ready,” she told the Senate panel. “It is because of their sacrifices that we all sleep well. As an aviator, I have a deep love and respect for the Air Force and the men and women — uniformed and civilian — who serve, and their families.” (Source: US DoD)
13 Sep 19. USyd quantum computer research company gains venture capital funding. In the technology race, no challenge is more pressing than developing a viable quantum computer, which has applications to space, defence and just about every other sector of society.
Now Sydney company Q-CTRL, a spin-off from the University of Sydney’s Quantum Science group, has raised $22m in venture capital to advance its work.
This investment places Q-CTRL, founded in 2017, in the top 10 most successful fundraisers globally in the emerging quantum technology industry and constitutes one of Australia’s largest venture capital deals for 2019.
“This funding is an exceptional acknowledgement of the value we’re adding to the quantum community and a statement of support for our global ambitions,” said Q-CTRL founder Professor Michael Biercuk.
The new for Q-CTRL is led by Australia’s largest venture capital fund Square Peg Capital, with a new syndicate member, Silicon Valley’s Sierra Ventures.
The round also includes participation from existing investors Sequoia Capital, Main Sequence Ventures and Horizons Ventures.
Q-CTRL specialises in solving one of the hardest problems in quantum computing – the inherent instability of the computer hardware.
Quantum computers are notoriously fragile. Machines being developed now by companies such as IBM, Rigetti and Google can only run operations for very short periods before errors emerge and programs fail.
Although quantum computers have great promise, that fragility means they aren’t yet viable for general industry applications.
Q-CTRL’s infrastructure software is based on a decade of research at the University of Sydney’s Quantum Control Laboratory, run by Professor Biercuk.
“This is a wonderful story about long-term investment in basic science leading to an outstanding commercial outcome for Australia. We congratulate Mike on his continuing success,” said University of Sydney deputy vice-chancellor for research Professor Duncan Ivison.
Q-CTRL’s solutions are demonstrated in peer-reviewed journals to reduce hardware-error susceptibility by orders of magnitude, accelerating the pathway to the first commercially relevant quantum computers.
Q-CTRL has Rigetti, Bleximo, Accenture and others as customers. Last year it was chosen as the first company outside North America to be included in IBM’s Q Network of start-ups working to advance the emerging quantum computing industry.
“This capital raise will support major growth for the company, roughly doubling the 25-member team of quantum engineers and software developers,” Professor Biercuk said.
“It will also support geographic expansion to include a new office in Los Angeles, bringing Q-CTRL staff closer to core customers in the US. It’s a thrilling time for the team and this emerging industry.” (Source: Space Connect)
09 Sep 19. UniSA research reveals soldiers humanise military robots. Research conducted by the University of South Australia in partnership with the US Air Force Academy (USAFA) has revealed that as military robots become a valuable member of the team, military personnel begin to treat them like colleagues rather than machines.
It is increasingly common to use robots in war zones to examine and disarm hazards or recover objects with the understanding that the loss of a robot is a far more acceptable outcome than the death of a solider.
University of South Australia Professor of Human Computer Interaction, Professor Mark Billinghurst, has collaborated with Dr James Wen and other members of the USAFA to explore these connections and their impact on team efficiency and productivity on the frontline.
Their research shows that for robots to be fully integrated within a human-machine team (HMT), they first must be accepted as teammates. To facilitate this, a lot of work has been done over the years to make robots more ‘human-like’ by altering their physical characteristics and capabilities.
Professor Billinghurst said the results show first-hand how emotional connections can impact decision making in the field, “We have evidence to show that teams working with a personified robot are significantly more mindful about limiting damage and harm towards it – but this can have significant consequences.”
While humanising robots strengthens the working relationships between soldiers and their robots, it also inflates the value of the robot team members in the minds of military personnel, leading to an increased emotional response when the robot is put under stress.
Designing a simulation-based application, researchers tracked the emotional responses of two teams of participants who undertook a range of simulated tasks with either a personified or non-personified robot.
“Participants who limited their use of robots or chose not the use the robots had a similar overall achievement to the teams that did, the result of an increased level of self-sacrifice in the form of working harder to gain the same result,” Professor Billinghurst added.
The study showed that teams working with a personified robot were 12 per cent less likely to put their robot at jeopardy of destruction compared with teams working with a non-personified robot, and that they were more sensitive to the robot’s health and the possibility of seeing the robot ‘killed’ in action.
This is the first time that research has measured how actions can be altered by empathy when potential harm is induced in a simulation.
“Rather than sacrificing the robot, participants who were working with a personified robot had to increase their workloads and were willing to take more personal risks and would stop before putting the robot at risk – impacting their decision making under pressure,” Professor Billinghurst said.
Where split second decisions can determine the difference between life and death, it will become increasingly important to monitor soldiers working in collaboration with robots.
It is expected that military robots will be increasingly used in the future, necessitating further research, training and evaluation on the topic.
The research also has implications for a wide range of other human/robot collaborative tasks in non-military settings, such as on the factory floor, in hospitals, or even in the home. (Source: Defence Connect)
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.