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April 24, 2018 | International, Land

Army researchers are developing a self-aware squid-like robot you can 3D print in the field


In case you weren’t already terrified of robots that can jump over walls, fly or crawl, Army researchers are developing your next nightmare — a flexible, soft robot inspired by squid and other invertebrates.

And they want soldiers to be able to use 3D printers to make them on the battlefield.

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the University of Minnesota are developing materials that can be 3D printed based on the flexibility and nimbleness of invertebrates such as a squid, according to an ARL release.

Traditional materials are too rigid and limit certain types of movement that robots might require to get into “confined or restricted spaces,” said Ed Habtour, an ARL researcher.

The prototypes that Habtour and fellow ARL researchers developed gave 3D-printed actuators three times the movement as what’s been tested before.

The material that they’ve used in their testing will bend in any direction when hit with electricity.

“In the initial phase of the project, our team began by investigating new methods for emulating the locomotion of invertebrates,” said Michael McAlpine, a professor at the University of Minnesota.

That helped researchers learn how to apply the natural movement of invertebrates like squids to produce “high bending motions without skeletal support,” McAlpine said.

Because the material doesn’t have to be dried, heated or assembled, it would require little training and could be used for printable robots that soldiers could make and use whenever and wherever they’re needed.

“If we can understand these interactions, then we can use those insights to fabricate dynamic structures and flexible robots which are designed to be self-aware, self-sensing and capable of adjusting their morphologies and properties in real time to adapt to a myriad of external and internal conditions,” Habtour said.

The material is still in early development stages, so don’t expect to see a robot squid in the foxhole next to you tomorrow.

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  • Défense européenne : arrêtons de déclamer, détaillons !

    April 2, 2019 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security, Other Defence

    Défense européenne : arrêtons de déclamer, détaillons !

    (B2) Il ne se passe pas de mois désormais sans qu’un dirigeant en responsabilité au niveau européen ne présente une idée ‘nouvelle’ pour faire avancer l’Europe de la défense. En soi, c’est intéressant, cela anime le débat. Mais il serait nécessaire d’en savoir plus. Une foison d’entreprises On a mis en place une coopération structurée permanente. Puis est venue une initiative européenne d’intervention, dérivée d’une idée présentée par Emmanuel Macron il y a 18 mois, en septembre 2017. Ensuite sont venues plusieurs déclarations franco-allemandes (à Meseberg en juin 2018 et Aix-La-Chapelle en janvier 2019) qui ont évoqué une nouvelle solidarité militaire entre les deux pays et un conseil de sécurité de l’UE. Puis sont venues des déclarations de plusieurs leaders européens — tels le Français Emmanuel Macron, l’Allemand Angela Merkel, l’Espagnol Pedro Sanchez — annonçant un projet, « à terme », d’armée européenne (1). Des dirigeants de premier plan. Enfin, Emmanuel Macron a souhaité mettre en place un nouveau traité de défense avec non seulement l’Allemagne mais aussi le Royaume-Uni définissant une nouvelle clause de défense mutuelle et ce fameux Conseil de sécurité européen. Sans oublier le fameux porte-avion commun, que voudrait développer la CDU d’Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. Cesser de mettre en bouche et expliquer Il serait peut-être désormais temps que les idées cessent d’être mises en bouche, mais qu’on arrive à saisir ce qu’elles recouvrent exactement. Paris et Berlin n’ont pas tout à fait peut-être la même idée du Conseil européen de sécurité ni de la défense européenne, il serait intéressant que ces nuances soient clarifiées pour que le débat puisse s’engager concrètement. Il serait aussi intéressant d’avoir un peu de cohérence dans tout ce feu d’artifice d’idées merveilleuses. Expliquer : une nécessité démocratique Les responsables politiques devraient prendre l’habitude, dans leurs grands discours, d’accompagner ceux-ci d’une petite notice explicative, détaillant en quelques phrases, comment leurs belles idées doivent être comprises. Cela aurait un intérêt : éviter des incompréhensions, permettre au débat de s’engager, faire avancer les projets. Cela aurait un avantage : clarifier si on est dans l’effet de manche, l’agitation ou le projet, l’action. Cela répondrait tout simplement à une nécessité démocratique.

  • CYBERCOM Has a Vendor In Mind For Its Big Data Platform But Is Open to Options

    November 28, 2018 | International, C4ISR

    CYBERCOM Has a Vendor In Mind For Its Big Data Platform But Is Open to Options

    By Aaron Boyd The military’s cyber branch plans to award a sole-source contract to manage and enhance its Big Data Platform but wants to know if other vendors are capable of bidding. Anyone with a passing understanding of cyberspace knows there’s a lot of data out there. As the military command charged with fighting and defending that domain, U.S. Cyber Command needs a platform that can move, store and process all that data. CYBERCOM contracting officials posted a special notice Monday announcing plans to award a sole-source contract to manage the Big Data Platform program, which looks to help the command and military branches ingest and process huge swaths of data from across the internet. Officials intend to award the contract to Enlighten IT Consulting, however, they are reaching out to industry to see if a full competition is warranted. “Any response to this notice must show clear and convincing evidence that competition would be advantageous to the government,” the notice states, urging interested qualified vendors to respond by noon on Dec. 11. The vendor will be expected to develop prototypes for capabilities based on proofs of concept, design and build key components for those capabilities and integrate them with CYBERCOM infrastructure, as well as other military branches. “Critical tasks include data acquisition, processing and storing packet capture, engineering support, enhancing the BDP tool suite according to real-world conditions and beta testing with the user population that includes Cyber Protection Teams, Computer Network Defense Service Providers, and Regional Cyber Centers,” according to the statement of work. The work will include “sustainment and enhancement” of tools in the classified and unclassified areas. Program officials expect this effort to “significantly enhance” the platform’s core capabilities. Officials are not looking for an overhaul of CYBERCOM’s analytics capabilities, but rather the underlying metadata and tagging processes and existing data feeds that categorizes the data and help the analysts find what they are looking for. However, “The contractor shall support the testing, deployment, integration and sustainment of BDP analytics as required,” the document states. “The contractor shall also assess and evaluate implementing analytics as developed by others on the BDP.” Along with those capability enhancements, the vendor will also be expected to act as a system administrator, including ensuring the right people and teams have access to needed information and ensuring that information is properly stored and secured. The Big Data Platform is part of a suite of tools CYBERCOM is using to analyze threat data and act as an information clearinghouse for the military and defense industrial base, according to Lisa Belt, acting cyber development executive at the Defense Information Systems Agency. “Acropolis coupled with Big Data coupled with [the Cyber Situational Awareness Analytical Capabilities program] all come together to form what we consider the basis of our data brokering and analytics platform,” Belt said during DISA’s Forecast to Industry day Nov. 5. The contract will run for up to three years, with one base year and two one-year add-on options.

  • A Smart Approach To Retaining Most Of The A-10s

    May 5, 2020 | International, Aerospace

    A Smart Approach To Retaining Most Of The A-10s

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