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02 Oct 20. Israeli defense giant picks five startups to develop future tech. Israel Aerospace Industries has chosen five startups to work with its engineers and experts to create products with the company, including sensors and artificial intelligence.
The five startups are QuantLR, Aigent-Tech, DST, Scopoli, and FVMat. Their work will focus on sensors for tracking people and objects, AI, monitoring systems, and landing gear, among other technologies.
IAI produces and supports a variety of defense systems for land, air and naval applications, such as a recent test of the Arrow 2 air defense weapon and a new sea-to-sea missile.
“IAI’s unique accelerator track allows the startups to work with IAI’s technology leaders, realize long-term business potential, leverage breakthrough technologies, and gain access to IAI’s customers,” the company said in a statement Oct. 1.
Among the companies selected, FVMat focuses on meta-materials, such as the production and design of materials with unique densities and stiffness. The firm will work with IAI on landing gear applications.
Aigent-Tech previously developed on-demand ridesharing solutions, and works on navigation and routing technology to improve transit efficiency.
QuantLR’s website says it works on quantum encryption technologies.
DST will work with IAI’s Aviation Group on real-time monitoring, while Scopoli will work with the System Missiles and Space Group on solutions for tracking people and objects.
IAI said it conducted more than $900m in research and development activity last year, of which $191m was used for its own innovation groups. A company spokesperson called research and development the company’s “DNA.”
Toward that end, it has invested millions of dollars in various collaborations with startups. In February IAI promoted collaboration in intelligence and remote sensing with MassChallenge. Its Elta subsidiary said it would offer participating startups “to hold their proof of concept on ELTA’s operational intelligence and radar systems, and will facilitate their access to global customers and markets.” That program targeted startups developing high-frequency sensors, quantum computing, photonics, acoustics, ultrasonic, and other disruptive sensory or data-fusion technology.
IAI’s new Innovation Center and the selection of five startups are part of the firm’s concentration on working with a large number of local startups. The center opened with the help of Starburst Aerospace, which specializes in pre-seed technological challenges, IAI said. The effort is expected to support work on machine learning, quantum computing, radars, sensors, robotics, big data, computer vision, smart cockpits, propulsion, drones, cyber technology and 3D printing.
“IAI invests hundreds of millions of dollars every year in in-house R&D of innovative technologies. The Innovation Center is unique in its startup model, which exists inside a stable, well-established company, providing IAI’s engineers with a path for testing their ideas and developing proof of concept within weeks,” said Amira Sharon, executive vice president of strategy and R&D.
After a public call in August for participants in the center, 90 startups applied. Of those, five have been chosen.
“It is a win-win: They get access to what we do operationally, and we become familiar with their technology, and the objective of the accelerator is to bring, in 13 weeks, viable and concrete products,” an IAI spokesperson said.
After the 13 weeks, the intention is to continue development and enhance the capabilities. One concept under development is to detect people and objects in complex terrain. But the business development model will vary with each startup, according to IAI.
IAI company did not specify how much money would be invested in the projects with which the startups are involved, but IAI’s Innovation Center has received several million dollars. IAI at present is not investing in the startups themselves, but rather is teaming with them. (Source: Defense News)
02 Oct 20. Aitech Systems, a leading provider of rugged boards and system level solutions for defense, space and industrial programs across the globe, has released an upgraded, qualified version of its high performance, compact A178. Designed for intense data processing in extreme environments, the rugged GPGPU AI supercomputer reliably operates in the harsh conditions found throughout mobile, remote, military and autonomous platforms. The A178 system is ideal for applications such as training simulation, situational awareness, AI computing, image and video processing, moving maps and much more.
Dan Mor, GPGPU product line manager for Aitech, noted, “High speed interfaces that can quickly capture and process data, then deliver it to the next decision point, are critical to avoid bottlenecks typical of the high processing demands in today’s rugged AI applications. The new A178 includes not only the needed interfaces, like 10GbE and USB 3, but up to 32 GB of RAM for even better performance in these high throughput scenarios.”
Already one of the smallest of Aitech’s extensive AI SFF systems, the new A178 packs even more performance into a compact, rugged form factor. It uses the NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier System-on-Module that features the Volta GPU with 512 CUDA cores and 64 Tensor cores to reach 32 TOPS INT8 and 11 TFLOPS FP16.
The upgrades to the A178 were designed to help meet the demand for standalone, compact, GPGPU-based small form factor (SFF) systems that are both rugged and SWaP-C-optimized. The low power unit offers a high level of energy efficiency, while providing all the power necessary for AI-based local processing right where it’s need, next to the sensors.
The advanced computation abilities of the new system include two dedicated NVDLA (NVIDIA Deep-Learning Accelerator) engines that provide an interface for deep learning applications, making it ideally suited for distributed systems. The system can accommodate up to three expansion modules, such as an HD-SDI frame grabber, composite frame grabber or NVMe SSD. A variety of expansion modules are available upon request.
Four high definition HD-SDI inputs and eight composite inputs handle multiple streams of video and data simultaneously at full frame rates. Interfaces include Gigabit and 10GB Ethernet, DisplayPort output handling 4K resolution, USB 3.0 & 2.0 as well as DVI/HDMI output, UART serial and CANbus, among others.
30 Sep 20. Palantir wants to be the ‘central operating system for all US defense programs.’ Palantir, the Silicon Valley-based software company that successfully sued the Army in 2016, wants to become “the central operating system for all U.S. defense programs,” the company wrote in paperwork filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for its initial public offering.
The software company, known for its controversial work with the U.S. government, went public on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday said that it wants its big data analytics platforms to “become the default operating system for data across the U.S. government.”
Palantir, according to the filing, views the U.S. government’s push toward alternative acquisition methods as a primary opportunity to for their company to grow. The federal government, particularly the Defense Department, is increasingly using what’s known as Other Transaction Authorities and Small Business innovation Research contracts to eliminate the long timelines associated with the traditional contracting process. In 2019, research showed that those types of awards accounted for nearly 10 percent of the department’s research, development, test and evaluation spending.
“Our software is well positioned for this new procurement approach. Our platforms have been tested and improved over years of use across industries and can rapidly be deployed by the government with minor configurations. This gives us a significant edge over contractors selling custom tools,” the filing states.
Palantir expects that there is $26bn worth of work in the federal space, the filing stated.
The company offers two big data analytics platforms, Foundry and Gotham, for data-driven decisionmaking by its customers. According to the filing, the company is currently working with Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, Special Operations Command and “other defense agencies,” along with several other civilian agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The filing also states that the Army uses the platform to “keep one million troops ready for their missions, and every battalion in the U.S. Army uses our software for intelligence analysis.”
In its filing, the company specifically cites the DoD’s $144bn in fiscal 2020 on procurement funds and $105bn on research, development, testing, and evaluation dollars as areas where its software “can contribute to programs covered by both of those budgets.”
In 2016, Palantir sued the Army over its procurement strategy for an intelligence analysis system. After winning that case, which forced the Army to seek commercial solutions before building their own system. Since winning the case in 2018, the company has received $134.5m in revenue from Army accounts, up from about $52m in the previous 10 years.
“Our victory in federal court is transforming the procurement of goods and services across the U.S. federal government,” the filing states. “For us, this shift in government acquisition represents a significant expansion of our [total addressable market] with the U.S. federal government. We are working towards becoming the central operating system for all U.S. defense program.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
29 Sep 20. Unmanned-Unmanned teaming: US Army demos Area-I’s Altius-600 air-launched effects. The US Army ‘successfully’ pushed the unmanned-unmanned teaming envelope at Project Convergence 2020 by releasing multiple Area-I’s Altius-600 air-launched effects (ALEs) to communicate and provide target acquisition information to other drones like the MQ-1 Gray Eagle.
After six weeks of testing 34 technologies at Yuma Proving Ground between 11 August and 18 September, the service hosted a capstone event on 23 September to display its ability to use artificial intelligence (AI) and tie together emerging sensor-to-shooter technologies in order to reduce the decision-making cycle from 20 minutes down to 20 seconds. One of the key capabilities touted during the event was the army’s new ALE concept.
“Unmanned-unmanned teaming has tremendous potential on the battlefield and is really just a whole new way of looking at things,” Army Chief of Staff General James McConville told reporters. “That’s [already] happening…the concept is being developed, [and] how we use that tactically, will change based on the results we get.”
In total, the army launched six Altius-600 ALEs during the demonstration – some from a UH-60 Black Hawk and others from the ground – before releasing an additional two ALEs from a Gray Eagle following the demo just to show that it was possible.
“We successfully launched six simultaneously from UH-60 Blackhawks in flight, ground-rail launch mechanism, and off the back of a truck,” the army wrote in a 24 September email to Janes. “The ALE not only performed [reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition] missions but were able to extend the mesh network out 61.9km.” (Source: Jane’s
28 Sep 20. The USAF’s robot pilot returns to the skies. A developmental robot pilot that transforms manned aircraft into unmanned systems is flying again after the Air Force Research Laboratory took its ROBOpilot out for a test flight at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, Sept. 24.
ROBOpilot’s name belies the simplicity of the program. In order to turn a manned aircraft into an unmanned one, AFRL simply replaces the human pilot with a robot who interacts with the aircraft controls the same way a human would: it can pull the yoke, press pedals to control rudders and brakes, adjust the throttle and flip switches. In addition to the robot’s own internal GPS and inertial measurement unit, the system scans the gauges on the dashboard for information about the aircraft and its position, processing that information with a computer to independently fly the plane.
Importantly, ROBOpilot requires no permanent modifications. All operators need to do is remove the pilots’ seats and replace them with ROBOpilot. And if users determine that they want to return the aircraft to a manned mission, ROBOpilot is simply removed and the pilots’ seats are reinstalled.
The robotic system is the result of a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) award granted to DZYNE Technologies by the AFRL’s Center for Rapid Innovation (CRI).
Despite a successful first flight in August 2019, the system was later grounded after it maintained damage during a landing mishap.
“The CRI and DZYNE team analyzed the findings and incorporated the recommendations to ensure the success of this latest test,” said Marc Owens, CRI’s program manager for ROBOpilot. “We determined the cause of the mishap, identified the best course of corrective action and we’re very pleased to be flight testing again.”
Since then, ROBOpilot has been cleared to fly again and installed in a new Cessna 206. On Sept. 24, the system returned to the skies for a 2.2 hour test flight over Utah.
“Since this is a completely new build with a different Cessna 206, we re-accomplished the flight test points completed on our first flight last year,” Owen explained. “ROBOpilot is too good an idea to let the mishap derail the development of this technology.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
28 Sep 20. QinetiQ warns Western force supremacy does not extend to grey zone. QinetiQ group CTO Mike Sewart has warned that the ‘traditional supremacy’ of western forces ‘currently doesn’t extend to grey zone tactics’.
Sewart’s comments came as the company released its ‘Confidence in Chaos’ report looking at the threat of operations below the threshold of armed conflict or traditional warfare.
The report comes as the UK inches closer to publishing its Integrated Reviews into defence, security and foreign policy which is set to bolster investment in cyber, space and subsea capabilities.
The report details ten technology areas important for meeting grey zone threats, including artificial intelligence (AI), analytics and advanced computing, cyber and electromagnetic activities, robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) and power sources, energy storage and distribution. Embracing these technologies, QinetiQ added, would help counter grey zone threats.
QinetiQ argues in its report that western militaries need to accelerate the deployment of emerging technology to mitigate grey zone threats.
Sewart said: “Grey zone tactics are today’s reality and the West and its allies have no option but to adapt. Simply doing what we’ve always done is neither recommended nor possible, given broader budget challenges facing nations impacted by Covid and economic hardship.
“Policymakers need to drive an integrated approach, reassess defence budgets, and ensure allocated resource to new information and emerging technologies that can prepare them to manage in this new context.”
The report details five ‘modes’ of grey zone operations: deniable attacks, information operations, the use of proxy forces, economic coercion and territorial encroachment.
The report also notes that while ‘multimillion-dollar defence remains important as a deterrent’ it must be combined with new tactics to keep pace with grey zone challenges. The report added: “This asymmetry is laid bare by the case in 2017 when a $3m Patriot missile was used to shoot down a $200 consumer quadcopter drone.”
On emerging technologies, Confidence in Chaos notes that commercial investment in emerging technologies is continuing to outpace investment by the aerospace and defence sector. In 2019, Amazon invested $22bn in research and development, which according to QinetiQ is almost 20 times more than the ‘nearest defence company’.
Sewart added: “With defence spending around the world coming under increasing public and government scrutiny, we are at cross-roads in how we evolve our defence and security infrastructure to be fit for purpose.
“The traditional supremacy of allied forces in conventional military conflicts currently doesn’t extend to grey zone tactics, so a new approach needs to be readily considered and deployed”.
QinetiQ also set out common challenges for defence and security to overcome in countering grey zone tactics adding that western forces need to create an information advantage, improve cyber resilience, improve threat detection, expand covert capabilities, adapt at pace and introduce new skills to the armed forces.
The report also lists potential attacks that could occur in the grey zone from a cyber-attack on critical national infrastructure to using drones to shut down an airport similarly to the Gatwick airport incident in 2018.
Other potential threats are an assassination by poisoning, citing the 2018 incident where Russian double agent Sergei Skipal and his daughter were targeted with the Novichok nerve agent. More recently, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was attacked with a nerve agent from the Novichok family according to German laboratories.
Proxy forces and their use by governments to achieve ‘military aims abroad without committing their own troops’ is also listed as a threat scenario in the report. (Source: army-technology.com)
25 Sep 20. Oklahoma State Students Build Turbo-Electric Drone Engine. A team of aerospace engineering students from Oklahoma State University has designed and built a turbo-electric drone engine as part of a program sponsored by the U.S. Army.
“It’s no fun designing just a very small piece of an airplane. If I was an aerospace engineer working for Boeing, I’d be designing the exact angle for an inlet or something like that,” Joshua Johnsen said. “And I think doing something like this, where it’s much more of a grand scale, encompassing the integration of an entire (aircraft), I really enjoyed it.”
Their innovative propulsion system goes beyond traditional battery-powered or combustion engines by combining the two technologies into a more efficient power source. Instead of burning fuel to mechanically operate pistons and a propeller, the gas turbine engine burns energy-dense jet fuel to generate electricity that’s stored in a battery.
Johnsen and his team, which includes fellow grad students Timothy Runnels and Johnathan Burgess, were selected to participate in the Firepoint C3 Challenge. It’s a partnership between Wichita State University and the Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation and Missile Center to design a next-generation unmanned aerial vehicle concept. Their adviser is Kurt Rouser, assistant professor of aerospace engineering at OSU.
The technology they’ve designed and built eventually could be scaled up to power manned aircraft. Johnsen and Runnels have planned a doctoral research project studying how to integrate a more powerful version of their engine with a Cessna. Based on their results, they will then write recommendations for the Federal Aviation Administration.
“The FAA expects companies to become more interested in turbine-powered electric aircraft. Battery technology is improving quite steadily, but at this current moment, the energy density of something like jet fuel is much higher than the energy density of batteries,” Johnsen said. “You can go a lot further on something on jet fuel that’s powering electric motors and these hybrid systems, but they’re a lot more complicated.”
But first, they’ll need to complete the Firepoint C3 Challenge. They’ve joined two other teams in the challenge who are providing the airframe and lift solutions. Buhler High School Science Club from Wichita built a dirigible that creates lift by extracting hydrogen from the atmosphere. Students from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville will provide a lightweight 3D-printed airframe. The challenge includes grants totalling $35,000.
The lighter-than-air dirigible will allow the drone to take off vertically, then launch under its own power using the OSU students’ engine.
In about a month, the team will give their preliminary design report to Firepoint and others in the military and aerospace industry. A demonstration of the fully-integrated drone is expected early next year.
“We should have all the pieces we need,” said Runnels. “We might change some parts out just to kind of optimize the system a bit more. We’ve got all the jet engine and generator parts, and the next step I’m working on is getting a kind of housing system to hold all of those together in the plane.”
They successfully tested the engine on their own drone in July.
Burgess said the team has a strong understanding of the turbo-electric system and is now working to make sure the engine is the best it can be.
“That design is kind of an open-ended design, but all of the components are pretty well nailed down,” he said. (Source: UAS VISION/The Oklahoman)
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.