• Rare Earth elements in U.S. not so rare: report

    Approximately 13 million metric tons of rare Earth elements exist within known deposits in the United States, according to the first-ever nationwide estimate of these elements by the U.S. Geological Survey; despite their name, these elements are relatively common within the Earth’s crust, but because of their geochemical properties, they are not often found in economically exploitable concentrations

  • DARPA: Break-up of hypersonic airplane/missile no big deal

    DARPA first test of its hypersonic airplane/missile — Falcon HTV-2 — failed after the prototype broke up on re-entering the atmosphere; after investigating the causes of the accident, the agency said it is ready for another test; the HTV-2 unmanned test vehicle had no propulsion of its own, being intended rather to try out new airframe and control technologies for use in hypersonic weapons or aircraft of the future

  • BAE tests defense software based on ALADDIN project

    Coordinating military attacks, managing aerial drones, and monitoring terrorists online could all become easier with new software under trial by BAE Systems; a team of researchers from BAE and the universities of Southampton, Oxford, Bristol and Imperial College London spent five years developing a series of algorithms that allow different computer systems to co-ordinate their actions without a central authority

  • Pentagon emphasizes insider threat detection

    Based on a report examining the Fort Hood incident, military leaders have concluded that protecting military bases and facilities only from external threats is no longer a viable strategy; the U.S. military’s four services plan to share information and coordinate efforts more closely to ensure military personnel are protected from insider threats; the armed services will continue to develop the Web-based iWatch and iSalute programs, and DARPA is developing technology — anomaly detection at multiple scales (ADAMS) — to help better identify potential insider threats before they can do damage

  • Stealthy robo-snake to gather info in inaccessible areas

    Israeli researchers develop a robotic snake that could be useful in urban and subterranean warfare, enabling the inspection and surveillance of sewage systems, narrow tunnels, or culverts, inaccessible by other systems; the robo-snake can maneuver through difficult terrain, “sneak” stealthily inside buildings, use its sensors to scan their interiors; the robot will be able to carry disposable sensors that could be separated and left behind to monitor activity inside buildings

  • Airborne mine detection system passed flight tests

    The U.S. Navy concluded developmental flight testing of the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System; the system rapidly detects and locates surface and near-surface mines so they can be neutralized before damaging U.S. and allied military and commercial ships

  • Carnegie Mellon to develop flying car for DARPA

    DARPA chooses Carnegie Mellon to develop autonomous capability for flying car; the military ground vehicle would transform into flyer for scouting, resupply, and medical evacuation; the flying car would be capable of transporting four people and 1,000 pounds of payload up to 250 nautical miles, either by land or by air

  • Sniffer rats saving lives in war zones -- and in the lab

    Light, with an acute sense of smell and easily motivated by food rewards, giant African pouched rats have been found to be highly effective in mine detection; in the lab, the rats use their keen noses positively to identify tuberculosis sputum samples; the next frontier would be to use the “hero rats” to sniff out narcotics or to search for survivors of disasters such as earthquakes or collapsed buildings

  • U.S. Army's new surveillance blimp will fly "mid-next summer"

    Northrop Grumman successfully completed another test of the Long Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) — a blimp longer than a football field and taller than a seven-story building, which will remain airborne for more than three weeks at a time, carrying multiple surveillance payloads

  • Increasing counter-IED role for robots

    U.S. and coalition military operating in Afghanistan have experienced about 10,500 roadside bomb incidents so far this year, up from 8,994 in 2009 and 2,677 in 2007; robots continue to play ever-more important combat roles in the air and on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq, and their responsibilities will only continue to grow

  • Boeing shows a plane-helicopter combo

    The DARPA-funded, Boeing-developed DiscRotor combines the hovering ability and landing control of a helicopter with the high-speed, high-altitude flight capabilities of a plane, something that could be of use especially in military situations

  • U.S. Army tests robot batteries-and-bandwidth war-mules

    The U.S. army remains determined to kit out all its ground troops with portable, wearable networking gear which will provide them with communications as well as an accurate idea of where everyone is; trouble is, when you have to generate your own wireless coverage as you go from the same kit, this means a lot of power — and this, in turn, means a crippling load of batteries; Lockheed Martin has a solution

  • Showcasing Israeli homeland security technology

    Next week’s Homeland Security International Conference in Tel Aviv will showcase Israel’s homeland security technology; Israel is already the world’s third-largest exporter of defense technology; in homeland security technology, it is among the Top 10 exporting countries; Brazil, India, Mexico, and Thailand, among others, are markets opening up for Israeli homeland security products

  • Pentagon: dogs better than technology at bomb detection

    The most sophisticated detectors the Pentagon came up with tend to locate only 50 percent of IEDs in Afghanistan and Iraq; when soldiers are accompanied by bomb-sniffing dogs, this number goes up to 80 percent; the Pentagon now spends less money on IED detection and more money on drones to find those planting IEDs, radio jammers to disrupt the frequencies used to detonate the bombs, and lots of aerial sensors to scan bomb-heavy areas

  • DARPA-funded new engine brings flying car closer

    DARPA awards Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne a $1 million contract to develop its EnduroCORE engine, which the company says offers “a high power-to-weight ratio comparable to gas turbines”; the engine will bring the Transformer TX flying car closer to reality