Sponsored By Oxley Developments
03 Apr 20. Drone Manufacturer Teams with Cybersecurity Expert WISeKey. WISeKey International Holding Ltd., a global cybersecurity and IoT company, announced that it has been selected by a major drone manufacturer to bring its decades of expertise in digital security into the Company’s newly designed drones.
This agreement is a significant achievement for WISeKey and further illustrates how its security can help global corporations fulfil the latest international regulations about cybersecurity. From drone in-flight control systems down to infrastructure, from WISeKey’s VaultIC407 through the Company’s Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and blockchain technologies, solutions exist to guarantee the safety of drone flights.
In January 2020, Technavio released its “Global Commercial Drones Market 2020-2024” report showing that this market is poised to grow by USD20.39bn during 2020-2024, progressing at a CAGR of 36% during this period. For years, the drone market was in a nascent phase mostly limited to leisure applications. The situation changed in 2016, when various branches of industry realized how UAVs could bring efficiency. Applications are now mature: last mile delivery of packages, optimization of fertilizer or insecticide spreading, public safety and inspection of pipelines or buildings are no longer science fiction.
While the number of flying drones is increasing, so does the risks such as collision, hacking and infringement of regulations, in particular penetration into restricted or even forbidden areas. Laws are getting more restrictive to impose a full control over pilots, drones and flight paths.
“We are thrilled to sign this multi-year / multi-million-dollar contract with a global drone manufacturer, our first contract in this segment. This agreement is a validation of our solid reputation for securing digital identity of people and objects, protecting firmware and also sensitive data at rest or in transit, and at the same time securing the confidentiality and reliability of data through any connection; these business practices have been part of the foundation of WISeKey’s core business for decades,” stressed Carlos Moreira, WISeKey’s Founder and CEO. “Those are also the same technologies which are requested by drone makers to help them easily fulfil the laws and boost their revenue.”
WISeKey has designed a complete set of technologies to secure the drone systems from end-to-end:
- WISeKey’s VaultIC407 secure element is added to the drone or to the remote control main microprocessor, or a secure enclave of this microprocessor is based on WISeKey’s proven security Intellectual Properties (IPs). This is a reliable solution to secure and prove the drone’s digital identity. This also protects data and firmware against compromising when stored in the drone or in transit.
- WISeKey’s VaultIC186 is affixed to the battery packs to prove their authenticity, protect the user’s investment against damages, and protect manufacturer’s revenue.
- WISeKey’s VaultiTrust service for secure data generation and injection into secure elements is at the heart of the complete system. It provides any drone or remote control with a strong digital identity.
- On the infrastructure server side, the key elements are WISeKey’s Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) based on the OISTE Foundation Root-Of-Trust and WISeKey’s blockchain technology. Both are used to securely register pilots and drones. They also secure the storage of drones’ tracking data that can be used at any time to prove any infringement. (Source: UAS VISION)
03 Apr 20. WA launches grant funding for defence research programs. West Australian Defence Issues Minister Paul Papalia has officially launched a series of state government grants to support collaborative research that will help strengthen WA’s defence industry as the economy grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Defence Science Centre grants range from $50,000 to $150,000 and are a key component of the WA government’s Defence and Defence Industries Strategic Plan to grow the local defence industry and create jobs.
Defence Issues Minister Paul Papalia said, “The Collaborative Research Grants are a central pillar of the McGowan government’s strategy to grow the state’s defence industry and create jobs. I am pleased to be able to launch the second round of the grants at this time to support the defence, university and innovation sectors.”
The funding is available for collaborations with universities, industry and government to undertake research on technologies and innovations that are relevant to the defence industry.
“As well as boosting innovation and helping bring emerging technologies to market the grants cultivate a long-term focus on innovation and foster ongoing collaboration between universities and industry,” he added.
Projects must be linked to the Department of Defence’s technology-themed Next Generation Technologies Fund priorities, maritime maintenance or – for the first time this year – to reduce the cost of on-the-job training.
“These grants are one of the ways the Defence Science Centre is delivering on its mission to connect universities and researchers with industry and Defence to build a stronger Western Australian economy,” Minister Papalia added.
Launched in 2018, the West Australian Defence and Defence Industries Strategic Plan is the first time a state government has committed to an overarching vision and direction to ensure that Western Australia is able to fully contribute to the national and international defence industry.
The Strategic Plan includes six key strategies with action areas, including:
- Supporting a strong and enduring defence presence;
- Growing the state’s defence industry capability and contribution;
- Developing strategic infrastructure;
- Building research and innovation partnerships;
- Advancing education, training and skilling; and
- Supporting veterans and families.
The WA government is committed to the delivery of the Strategic Plan. Immediate focus will be given to enhancing the capability and experience of the public sector, including Defence West, to deliver the requirements of this Strategic Plan and build robust engagement and consultation with industry.
The WA government aims to ensure that sovereign interest and support for the Australian Defence Force remains a priority as improved support, enhanced collaboration and increased exports for WA industry and universities are pursued. (Source: Defence Connect)
01 Apr 20. Hypersonic surfing. Simulating the test flight of a hypersonic glider, being developed through the international HEXAFLY-INT collaboration, involving partners across Europe, Russia, Australia and Brazil and supported by the European Commission and ESA.
The aim of the project is to develop and fly a waverider-based vehicle above seven times the speed of sound, designed to surf on the shock waves generated by its own high-speed flight. HEXAFLY-INT’s Experimental Flight Test Vehicle (EFTV) will be launched by a Brazilian sounding rocket before being deployed for its test glide.
At 3.29 m long, and 1.24 m wide, the EFTV is slightly smaller than a compact car, with a flat nose tip and wings. A detailed study of its aerodynamic performance was recently performed by Italy’s Centro Italiano Ricerche Aerospaziali, funded through ESA’s Technology. (Source: ASD Network)
01 Apr 20. Pentagon turns to new buying tools 10 times more often. The amount of funding for defense research awarded through other transaction authorities have increased nearly tenfold in five years, according to a new analysis seen exclusively by Defense News. The report, by data and analytics firm Govini, shows the use of OTAs and small business innovation research contracts has expanded to the point that, in 2019, the two methods accounted for $9.6bn, or 10 percent of the Defense Department’s research, development, test and evaluation spending.
OTAs are small contracts awarded to companies of any size, in theory targeted at nontraditional defense contractors, with the purpose of conducting research or prototype efforts on a specific project; they are not subject to Federal Acquisition Regulation rules. SBIR contracts are targeted at small businesses in order to act as seed money for them to conduct research and development efforts; they are subject to the FAR rules.
Overall, $34.5bn have been handed out in the last five years through the two contracting methods, to 6,503 unique vendors. However, more than half the OTA dollars are going to only three consortia.
The two contracting methods may be about to jump in importance for the department, in light of the new coronavirus outbreak. Navy acquisition head Hondo Geurts, in a March 24 memo, ordered his workforce to do what they can to keep small companies assigned to naval research programs on track, including specifically calling out the need to protect SBIR efforts.
Govini tracked the use of OTA and SBIR contracts over a five-year period, from fiscal 2015 through fiscal 2019.
“The Defense Department’s surging use of OTAs reflects its strong desire to break free from the stringent acquisition process, better access innovative technologies, and lure new companies to the defense ecosystem who otherwise may not see the federal government as a viable or lucrative potential market,” said Tara Murphy Dougherty, Govini CEO.
“Fundamentally, the Department is driven by the imperative to outpace China’s military modernization in order to retain a military advantage, and they understand that leveraging emerging technologies and the very best technology available in American industry — not just the Defense Industrial Base — are critical to achieving that goal,” she added.
The numbers tell a particularly stark story of how the department is increasing its use of OTA contracts. From 2015-2017, the government awarded $12.5bn in SBIR contracts, versus $4.9bn in OTA contracts. But from 2018-2019, the government awarded $5.7bn in SBIR contracts, while it handed out $11.4bn in OTA deals — an increase large enough to nearly draw even over the five-year period.
That increase in OTA funding also ties into the mission laid out by the National Defense Strategy, which encourages a focus on great power competition with China and Russia. According to Govini, the two biggest OTA investments of RDT&E dollars during this time period were $5bn for munitions and long-range fires, and $3bn for space systems.
While the dollar totals are becoming closer, overall SBIR recipients continue to dwarf OTAs — 6,213 to 290 during the five-year period.
The Army leads the way with use of the two contract methods ($14.1bn) during this period, followed by the Air Force ($10.4bn), defensewide agencies ($6bn) and the Navy ($4bn).
The two contract types also split their dollars in divergent ways. The top SBIR vendor, Colsa Corporation, received 4 percent of total SBIR awards, and the top ten (which includes Colsa) received less than 20 percent of the overall total.
In comparison, the top three OTA vendors are consortia managers that make up more than half of total OTA contracts. Those three are Analytic Services Inc. ($5.429 bn), Advanced Technology International ($1.616bn) and Consortium Management Group Inc. ($1.238bn).
Traditional defense corporations are taking advantage of OTAs as well. The fourth highest recipient of OTA money is United Launch Alliance, co-owned by Lockheed Martin and Boeing; the sixth highest recipient is Lockheed; the eight highest is Northrop Grumman; and the 10th highest is Boeing.
Given that OTAs were designed to reach out to nontraditional defense firms, “it’s surprising how many traditional defense contractors benefit from OTA arrangements,” Murphy Dougherty said. “Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing were all top OTA vendors over the past five years. This is a good example of how accessing the data can help the Department measure its success in terms of achieving intended outcomes through actions like increased OTA use.”
Earlier this month, Ellen Lord, the Defense Department’s top acquisition official, was asked at a McAleese & Associates conference about data that shows prime contractors taking advantage of OTA contracts. Lord indicated her office needed to gather more data on the issue before taking a look.
“The whole premise of OTAs was to get the nontraditional [vendors] and the smalls there,” Lord responded. “I find it hard to imagine a situation where large primes would predominately use OTAs, but I don’t know what I don’t know. That wasn’t the objective.
“Oversight is one of our responsibilities in A&S [the office of acquisition and sustainment] that I take very seriously, so we need to make sure that we don’t have unintended results from some of the polices that we implement. We’re always trying to improve that.” (Source: Defense News)
01 Apr 20. Panel wants to double federal spending on AI. A Congressionally-mandated panel of technology experts has issued its first set of recommendations for the government, including doubling the amount of money spent on artificial intelligence outside the defense department and elevating a key Pentagon office to report directly to the Secretary of Defense.
Created by the National Defense Authorization Act in 2018, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence is tasked with reviewing “advances in artificial intelligence, related machine learning developments, and associated technologies,” for the express purpose of addressing “the national and economic security needs of the United States, including economic risk, and any other associated issues.”
The commission issued an initial report in November, at the time pledging to slowly roll out its actual policy recommendations over the course of the next year. Today’s report represents the first of those conclusions — 43 of them in fact, tied to legislative language that can easily be inserted by Congress during the fiscal year 2021 budget process.
Bob Work, the former deputy secretary of defense who is the vice-chairman of the commission, said the report is tied into a broader effort to move DoD away from a focus on large platforms.
“What you’re seeing is a transformation to a digital enterprise, where everyone is intent on making the DoD more like a software company. Because in the future, algorithmic warfare, relying on AI and AI enabled autonomy, is the thing that will provide us with the greatest military competitive advantage,” he said during a Wednesday call with reporters.
Among the key recommendations:
- The government should “immediately double non-defense AI R&D funding” to $2 bn for FY21, a quick cash infusion which should work to strengthen academic center and national labs working on AI issues. The funding should “increase agency topline levels, not repurpose funds from within existing agency budgets, and be used by agencies to fund new research and initiatives, not to support re-labeled existing efforts.” Work noted that he recommends this R&D to double again in FY22.
- The commission leaves open the possibility of recommendations for increasing DoD’s AI investments as well, but said it wants to study the issue more before making such a request. In FY21, the department requested roughly $800m in AI developmental funding and another $1.7bn in AI enabled autonomy, which Work said is the right ratio going forward. “We’re really focused on non-defense R&D in this first quarter, because that’s where we felt we were falling further behind,” he said. “We expect DoD AI R&D spending also to increase” going forward.
- The Director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) should report directly to the Secretary of Defense, and should continue to be led by a three-star officer or someone with “significant operational experience.” The first head of the JAIC, Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, is retiring this summer; currently the JAIC falls under the office of the Chief Information Officer, who in turn reporters to the secretary. Work said the commission views the move as necessary in order to make sure leadership in the department is “driving” investment in AI, given all the competing budgetary requirements.
- The DoD and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) should establish a steering committee on emerging technology, tri-chaired by the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Principal Deputy Director of ODNI, in order to “drive action on emerging technologies that otherwise may not be prioritized” across the national security sphere.
- Government microelectronics programs related to AI should be expanded in order to “develop novel and resilient sources for producing, integrating, assembling, and testing AI-enabling microelectronics.” In addition, the commission calls for articulating a “national for microelectronics and associated infrastructure.”
- Funding for DARPA’s microelectronics program should be increased to $500m. The commission also recommends the establishment of a $20m pilot microelectronics program to be run by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), focused on AI hardware.
- The establishment of a new office, tentatively called the National Security Point of Contact for AI, and encourage allied government to do the same in order to strengthen coordination at an international level. The first goal for that office would be to develop an assessment of allied AI research and applications, starting with the Five Eyes nations and then expanding to NATO.
New Pentagon budget request invests in 4 advanced technologies
One issue identified early by the commission is the question of ethical AI. The commission recommends mandatory training on the limits of artificial intelligence in the AI workforce, which should include discussions around ethical issues. The group also calls for the Secretary of Homeland Security and the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to “share their ethical and responsible AI training programs with state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement officials,” and track which jurisdictions take advantage of those programs over a five year period.
Missing from the report: any mention of the Pentagon’s Directive 3000.09, a 2012 order laying out the rules about how AI can be used on the battlefield. Last year C4ISRNet revealed that there was an ongoing debate among AI leaders, including Work, on whether that directive was still relevant.
While not reflected in the recommendations, Eric Schmidt, the former Google executive who chairs the commission, noted that his team is starting to look at how AI can help with the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, saying ““We’re in an extraordinary time… we’re all looking forward to working hard to help anyway that we can.” The full report can be read here https://www.nscai.gov/reports (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
02 Apr 20. British taskforce reinvents trusted technology to help solve NHS crisis. A body of British citizen scientists, medical clinicians, academics, manufacturers and engineers has developed an alternative model of ventilator to support the Government’s drive to equip the NHS.
The new model, the exovent, is a cutting-edge reinvention of the archetypal iron lung which saved the lives of countless polio victims during the last century.
Marshall Aerospace & Defence Group, the UK’s leading privately owned Aerospace and Defence business, is exploring the technical aspects of the scheme ahead of rapid production and roll-out of the Negative Pressure Ventilator (NPV). The exovent concept is also supported by WMG at the University of Warwick and representatives from Imperial NHS Trust and The Royal National Throat Nose and Ear hospital. Two leading intensive care units have agreed to trial the prototype ventilator support devices.
With only a small number of moving parts, the components are readily available now in the UK and are not required by other manufacturers currently commissioned by the Government to build conventional Intermittent Positive Pressure Ventilators (IPPV). More types of ventilator can then be built simultaneously – with the aim of 5000 exovents a week being produced – and more options can be provided to clinicians choosing the most appropriate device for each patient.
exovent is non-invasive, which means that patients do not need to have their windpipes intubated, so they don’t need to be sedated or paralysed. Instead, they can remain conscious, take medication and nutrition by mouth, and talk to loved ones on the phone. It can be used on a normal ward, keeping patients out of intensive care.
The device works by being fitted over the patient’s torso and taking over their breathing through gentle and repeating pressure. It increases the heart’s efficiency by up to 25% compared to conventional ventilators which squeeze the chest and may actually reduce cardiac function.
The ventilation support device is supported by Sir John Burn, professor of Clinical Genetics at Newcastle University, who is leading the development of a Covid-19 antigen test:
“The exovent team has cleverly adapted the old concept of the iron lung which was used for treating polio. This device is cheap, simple and it will work. I am convinced it provides a real alternative and is worthy of support.”
Speaking on the concept, the task force’s leading clinician Dr Malcolm Coulthard said: “The team has been working flat out for the last 10 days. We started out looking at negative pressure ventilator technology thinking that it would allow us to produce literally thousands of ventilators very quickly and cheaply to cope with the tsunami of people with pneumonia that may be upon us because of the Covid-19 virus. However, as soon as we looked into the science and the literature it immediately became apparent that this will allow us to produce less-invasive devices than the conventional units in current use, possibly better for patients’ hearts, at a fraction of the price, using off-the-shelf parts. exovent can provide an alternative choice to using Continuous Positive Airways Pressure (CPAP) by delivering continuous Negative End Expiratory Pressure (NEEP). This method does not require to be driven by pressurised air or oxygen, and additional oxygen that the patient needs can be provided with tubing or a face mask as required.”
Margot James, Executive Chair, WMG University of Warwick said: “We are delighted to be working with exovent to help scale up their non-invasive ventilator from prototype to volume manufacturing. Our engineers and researchers are collaborating with the exovent team on the design, engineering, component sourcing and assembly of the ventilator. I am extremely proud of the unstinting and dedicated efforts of our research team, led by Archie MacPherson at WMG, and glad that we are able to apply our expertise to this important project.”
The family of Stephen Hawking said: “As the family of a ventilated man, we know the life and death difference that access to this kind of medical technology makes. The COVID 19 epidemic has caused worldwide demand for ventilators vastly to outstrip supply. We are so proud to support the technological and manufacturing innovation involved in producing low cost, effective ventilators swiftly and in large numbers and hope the combined efforts of everyone who has answered this call will mean the NHS receives the equipment it needs to save lives at this terrible time.”
01 Apr 20. Australian Army sets up office to bolster adoption of disruptive technologies. The Australian Army has established a specialist office to advance knowledge in and bolster its adoption of disruptive technologies in the fields of artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, robotics and autonomous systems.
Created in March 2020, the Robotic and Autonomous Systems Implementation Coordination Office (RICO) operates within the Future Land Warfare branch of the army’s Land Capability division and will use specialist personnel to explore, co-ordinate and develop concepts using disruptive technologies.
The RICO will also focus on alternative power and energy, such as hybrid drive and additive manufacturing, along with autonomous leader-follower trucks and increasing experimentation with optionally crewed combat vehicles (OCCVs), according to an article posted on the website of the Australian Army Research Centre. (Source: Jane’s)
31 Mar 20. UAVOS, KACST demonstrate progressive flight control capability for their Saker UAVs. UAVOS and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) have used two ground control stations (GCSs) to fly their Saker-1B medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for the first time.
UAVs, with this progressive flight control capability, can automatically land on remote runways located thousands of kilometers away where it can be serviced by a crew before taking off for another mission, according to a UAVOS statement. The company believes this capability will save resources of command stations by eliminating the need to return to the original takeoff point for fueling.
“The full scale tests were important to confirm the interactions between the flight control system, command-and-control stations, and the integrated payload,” UAVOS CEO and lead developer Aliaksei Stratsilatau said in a statement.(Source: Jane’s)
30 Mar 20. Keysight Enhances UXR Oscilloscopes to Accelerate Development of Next Generation mmWave Communications and Applications. Delivers fast, affordable and flexible wideband analysis up to 110 GHz.
Keysight Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: KEYS), a leading technology company that helps enterprises, service providers and governments accelerate innovation to connect and secure the world, announced a new cost effective and flexible single channel instrument specifically designed to accelerate development of next generation mmWave communications, satellite communications, and radar applications.
Keysight’s latest edition to the company’s UXR-Series of oscilloscopes, the UXR0051AP Infiniium UXR-Series Oscilloscope, offers a frequency range of 110 GHz and 5 GHz of standard analysis bandwidth, and provides fast, affordable and flexible analysis of wideband measurements. Keysight’s UXR-Series oscilloscopes, with optional mmWave Wideband Analysis functionality, deliver the signal integrity, versatility, affordability, and performance needed to bring signal, spectrum, and digital capabilities together, within a single instrument.
“Keysight’s UXR is an awesome machine that can easily and accurately analyze millimeter-wave 1×1 and 2×2 MIMO 5G NR communication links. It has a very low error vector magnitude (0.2-0.9%) for 200 MHz-5 GHz bandwidth signals, even at -40 dBm input power and at 67 GHz,” stated Dr. Gabriel M. Rebeiz, Distinguished Professor and Member of the National Academy at the University of California, San Diego. “We connect our 5G phased-arrays to the UXR without any external amplifiers or filters, run the 89600 VSA software and start measuring. It has cut our measurement time from hours to just minutes. I cannot imagine how a state-of-the-art 5G lab can operate today without Keysight’s UXR.”
Key features and benefits include:
- Superior -158 dBm/Hz displayed average noise level (DANL) from 28 GHz to 85 GHz which enables golden receiver quality error vector magnitude (EVM) measurements on low power wideband signals.
- Directly measures wideband signals with up to 10 GHz bandwidth and fundamental frequencies as high as 110 GHz, without the need for external downconverters, for high quality wideband analysis.
- Instant upgradability to two independently configurable phase coherent channels for easy multiple input multiple output (MIMO) measurement support.
- High-definition, 10-bit analog-to-digital converter (ADC) with 16-bit Digital Down Conversion (DDC) I/Q data output to ensure high mmWave measurement accuracy.
- 256 GSa/s real-time or 3,200 MSa/s complex sample rates delivers the industry’s widest 110 GHz frequency range and 2.16 GHz DDC analysis bandwidth.
- Flexible mmWave extension and DDC bandwidth license options enable performance and affordability for oscilloscope based mmWave wideband analysis.
“To satisfy the demand for faster speeds and increased bandwidth, mmWave technologies are evolving with techniques such as MIMO and phased array antennas,” said Brad Doerr, vice president and general manager of digital and photonics R&D for Keysight’s Communications Solutions Group. “Keysight recognized the need for a cost-effective one channel oscilloscope with dynamically configurable bandwidth to support today’s single-channel mmWave wideband measurement requirements. The new oscilloscope can instantly expand to two phase coherent channels, enabling customers to easily support this emerging multi-channel evolution.”
Pricing and availability
Keysight’s UXR0051AP Infiniium UXR-Series Oscilloscope is available now with a base price of US $195,000. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
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.