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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

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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.

https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2018/04/18/army-researchers-are-developing-a-self-aware-robot-squid-you-can-3d-print-in-the-field/

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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 !

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  • 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. https://www.nextgov.com/analytics-data/2018/11/cybercom-has-vendor-mind-its-big-data-platform-open-options/153032/

  • 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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These are the sorts of aircraft—empowered with fifth generation attributes like stealth, advanced sensors, and computing power—that will be far better equipped to handle mission demands against potential adversaries equipped with the most advanced weapons coming out of China or Russia.  Preparing for the future demands adjusting the Air Force’s existing aircraft inventory in response to budget realities. Dialing up investment in fifth-generation aircraft is an essential requirement, especially given that too few B-2s and F-22s were procured in the past. The types of combat scenarios that defined the post-9/11 world occurred in permissive airspace at the low end of the threat spectrum. America’s interests demand a much more far reaching set of options able to operate and survive in high threat environments. That is why investments in A-10 modernization and newer designs like the F-35, B-21, and next generation air dominance aircraft are so important.  However, capacity still matters. The Air Force needs to be properly resourced so it does not have to gut the very numbers that will prove essential in future engagements. No matter the theater in which a fight may erupt, the type of combat action, or the scale of the operation, the need for numbers of airframes is a constant—the same cannot be said for surface forces. It is well past time for leaders in the Department of Defense, the White House and on Capitol Hill to start properly scaling Air Force resources to align for the actual mission demand required by our National Defense Strategy.  David Deptula, a member of the Breaking Defense Board of Contributors, is a retired Air Force lieutenant general with over 3,000 flying hours. He planned the Desert Storm air campaign, orchestrated air operations over Iraq and Afghanistan and is now dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. https://breakingdefense.com/2020/05/a-smart-approach-to-retaining-most-of-the-a-10s

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