02 Jan 15. DARPA UAVs would be fast, light and fly themselves. The Pentagon’s advanced R&D arm wants to help drones fly the crowded skies—using a new class of algorithms. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced Dec. 23 that it is seeking an algorithm, or software “brain,” aimed at high-speed aerial navigation in cluttered environments as part of its Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program. “Birds and flying insects maneuver easily at high speeds near obstacles,” DARPA’s solicitation notes. “The FLA program asks the question ‘How can autonomous flying robotic systems achieve similar high-speed performance?'” DARPA envisions such a system performing reconnaissance in areas previously considered denied, such as a protected or structurally damaged building. But such technology could have applications off the battlefield. The solicitation came a month after an FAA report leaked that detailed nearly 200 safety incidents involving commercial drones and commercial aircraft, and days ahead of the FAA’s safety campaign for the holiday hot-seller. DARPA’s technology would take actually take the pilot out of the equation. Remote-controlled unmanned aerial systems for the most part rely on a skilled pilot, on-board sensors and reliable signals between the pilot man and platform. Alternatively, a drone could use pre-determined way-points, but that approach depends on GPS signals, which can fail indoors or be jammed. Modeled after the capabilities of a bird, these drones in the final demonstration would have to fly for ten minutes, travel at 45 miles per hour, fly as far as a kilometer, use a 20-watt computer and use no communications after the initial “go” command. The agency is offering $5.5m in research funding. Phase 1, from mid 2015 to mid 2017, is focused on an outdoor slalom course, the inside of a warehouse and indoor offices. Before wrapping up at the end of 2018, Phase 2 would tackle doors and windows, the bane of real birds everywhere. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
01 Jan 15. Rescinded RFI gives insight to USN’s railgun plans. Key Points:
* NAVSEA said it required a railgun fire-control sensor operational prototype by 2018
* An operational capability – capable of defending against ballistic missile, air, and surface raids – was sought for the 2020-25 time frame
Clues to the direction of travel for the US Navy’s (USN’s) electromagnetic railgun programme have emerged via a request for information (RFI) issued in error by Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA). Posted on the government’s FedBizOpps website on 22 December 2014 and cancelled less than four hours later, the notice invited industry and academic institutions to submit ideas for the development of a railgun fire-control sensor (FCS) to support the detection, tracking, and engagement of surface, air, and ballistic missile threats. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
30 Dec 14. Maritime awareness goes mobile. Smartphones and tablets may emerge as the next platform for maritime domain awareness. Mobile apps have become available that enhance situational awareness at sea, reports Trajectory, the magazine of the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation. Among the apps Trajectory highlights:
* MarineTraffic, Ship Finder, Boat Watch, and VesselFinder all allow users to track ships, and some provide ship identification tools.
* Shipwatch, Fish DB, and similar apps make it easy for fishermen or others at sea to report illegal activity to authorities.
Trajectory reports that the macroview of maritime GEOINT is becoming more and more complete. All ships bound for the U.S. are now required to report their positions via satellite several times a day, and those locations are confirmed by Automatic Identification System (AIS) signals. The growing number of apps brings the domain awareness down to a micro-level. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
31 Dec 14. What would global Internet access mean to the military? The CEO and CTO of SpaceX, Elon Musk, recently announced his spa