• Ray gunsU.K. to develop laser directed energy weapons

    The U.K. Ministry of Defense (MOD) has awarded £30 million contract to produce Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) Capability Demonstrator to U.K. Dragonfire consortium, led by MBDA. The project will assess innovative LDEW technologies and approaches, culminating in a demonstration of the system in 2019. The contract will assess how the system can pick up and track targets at various ranges and in varied weather conditions over land and water, to allow precision use.

  • DronesBird-inspired drone navigation

    When they need to change direction, increase their speed, or counter headwinds, birds alter the configuration of their wings. To steer, for example, they spread one wing and slightly retract the other. By adjusting their wingspan in this way, they create a calculated imbalance that causes them to turn. Up to now, only birds could do this so effectively. Researchers have equipped a drone with feathers to increase its precision during flight. The bio-inspired device can spread or close its wings while flying, making it easier to maneuver and more resistant in high winds.

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  • FirefightingFirefighters to have bushfire predictions at the fingertips

    Researchers at the University of Western Australia are developing a new touchscreen device that can be mounted in a fire truck to help firefighters predict where and when a bushfire will spread. The researchers are modifying bushfire simulation software Australis into a high-end tablet to provide accurate predictions of fire behavior more rapidly than current methods.

  • Search & rescueRemote-control skillful rescue robot demonstrated

    Researchers have developed a prototype construction robot for disaster relief situations. This prototype has drastically improved operability and mobility compared to conventional construction machines.

  • First-response technologyIdentifying, fast-tracking development of first responders technology

    First responders face challenging conditions while often carrying heavy and outdated equipment. Wearable technology is on the rise, estimated at a $10 billion dollar commercial market, and advances are happening in the health and fitness area every day. The first responder community stands to benefit from integrating some of this otherwise heavy and outdated equipment into wearable technology, improving both upon efficiencies and responsiveness as well as continuing to prioritize their own safety on the frontlines of often dangerous situations.

  • Defense technologySwarming robots to help small urban ground units

    Urban canyons — with their high vertical structures, tight spaces, and limited lines of sight — constrain military communications, mobility, and tactics in the best of times. These challenges become even more daunting when U.S. forces are in areas they do not control — where they can’t rely on supply chains, infrastructure, and previous knowledge of local conditions and potential threats. to help overcome these challenges and increase the effectiveness of small-unit combat forces operating in urban environments, DARPA has launched its new OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program. OFFSET seeks to develop and demonstrate 100+ operationally relevant swarm tactics that could be used by groups of unmanned air and/or ground systems numbering more than 100 robots.

  • Defense technologyPurdue launches Institute for Global Security and Defense Innovation

    Purdue University president Mitch Daniels announced last Thursday that the university is opening a new Institute for Global Security and Defense Innovation in Discovery Park. In the 2016 fiscal year, the university was awarded more than $50 million for advanced defense-related research projects. The new institute will centralize defense and security research efforts across campus, and, it is hoped, will make Purdue the pre-eminent university in national defense and security. “We can no longer rely on decades of military superiority via so-called technology ‘off-sets,’” said Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, chief scientist and executive director of Purdue’s Discovery Park. “In the future we must out-invent, out-discover, and out-innovate our adversaries every day.”

  • GunsA license to print: how real is the risk posed by 3D printed guns?

    By Thomas Birtchnell

    3D printed guns are back in the news after Queensland Police reported last week that they had discovered a 3D printer in a raid on what appeared to be a “large-scale” weapons production facility as a part of Operation Oscar Quantum. But the fact is that 3D printing technology is not yet at the stage where it can readily produce weapons. Although it can be used to help rogue gunsmiths work their shady trade. And we should remember that it’s not only 3D printing that enables people to build illicit firearms. With the right tools, a skilled gunsmith can make a weapon in their back shed. However, 3D printing can make that process easier and more accessible to less skilled individuals.

  • DetectionImprove trace detection of explosives by sniffing like a dog

    By mimicking how dogs get their whiffs, a team of government and university researchers have demonstrated that “active sniffing” can improve by more than ten times the performance of current technologies that rely on continuous suction to detect trace amounts of explosives and other contraband.

  • Infrastructure protectionMood ring materials offer a new way to detect damage in failing infrastructure

    The American Society of Civil Engineers has estimated that more than $3.6 trillion in investment is needed by 2020 to rehabilitate and modernize the nation’s failing infrastructure. President-elect Donald Trump has promised to establish a $1 trillion infrastructure improvement program when he takes office. An important element in any modernization effort will be the development of new and improved methods for detecting damage in these structures before it becomes critical. This is where “mood ring materials’ comes in. “Mood ring materials” could play an important role in minimizing and mitigating damage to the U.S. failing infrastructure.

  • R&DFortifying advanced manufacturing, save $100 billion annually by closing tech gaps

    To spur significant innovation and growth in advanced manufacturing, as well as save over $100 billion annually, U.S. industry must rectify currently unmet needs for measurement science and “proof-of-concept” demonstrations of emerging technologies. This is the overall conclusion reached by economic studies of four advanced manufacturing areas used to create everything from automobile composites to zero-noise headsets.

  • DronesAdvanced anti-drone protection and neutralization system unveiled

    Elbit Systems will use the Israel HLS & Cyber Conference, taking place this week in Tel Aviv, to unveil its ReDrone system, a solution for protection of closed air spaces, national infrastructures, and other critical areas against hostile drones penetrating the protected perimeter. The new system addresses growing global demand for effective – and affordable — airspace protection against hostile drones.

  • Gene drivesCaution about emerging technologies is compatible with science

    Precautionary approaches to governance of emerging technology, which call for constraints on the use of technology whose potential harms and other outcomes are highly uncertain, are often criticized for reflecting “risk panics,” but precaution can be consistent with support for science.

  • Nuke detectionFirst large-scale, citywide test of advanced radioactive threat detection system

    Field testing of more than 1,000 networked, mobile radiation sensors in Washington, D.C., yields valuable data for implementing enhanced radiation-detection networks in major U.S. cities. By getting volunteers to walk all day looking for clues, the DARPA-sponsored exercise provided the largest test yet of DARPA’s SIGMA program, which is developing networked sensors that can provide dynamic, real-time radiation detection over large urban areas.

  • ForensicsForensic technique to measure mechanical properties of evidence

    You may have seen it on CSI: The star examines hair from a crime scene and concludes its color or texture looks like the defendant’s hair, or maybe his dog’s. Case closed. But looks can be deceiving, as well as vague and subjective. In real life, the FBI is now reviewing thousands of cases involving hair comparisons going back to the 1980s because traditional identifications—often based on looks alone — have been called into question. Instead, what if investigators could precisely measure a hair’s mechanical properties — its stiffness and stickiness? Researchers say that in fact, they can.