In May 2010 Willow Garage, a startup robotics firm in California’s Silicon Valley, hosted a graduation for some of the world’s first humanoid robots. Eleven PR2 robots — two-armed ‘bots with wheeled bases, sensors and open-source software operating systems — “danced” with human partners.
Archived posts with tag ‘Darpa’
by ROBERT BECKHUSEN Leaving home while carrying a phone, an iPad and a laptop might also mean lugging along several tangled power cords. Now add radios and GPS devices. Now strap them to your person and wrap the cords around your body beneath your 30-pound armored vest. Oh, and you’re on patrol in Afghanistan, which [...]
Snipers are an infantry soldier’s worst nightmare. They can strike with no warning, often when you least expect it, almost always firing at long range and from concealment. The only thing that protects the average grunt from the sniper’s killing prowess is the sheer difficulty in hitting a man-sized target at extreme ranges with a tiny projectile. Sniping is deadly, but luckily for a shooter’s targets, it’s also really hard.
The U.S. military’s more than decade-old effort to produce a hypersonic global strike weapon just took a big step forward and a big step back. On April 20, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, published the results of an engineering review of a key hypersonic vehicle test.
by ROBERT BECKHUSEN The military has a data problem. More specifically, it has a too-much-data problem. Analysts have to sort through massive amounts of information collected by orbiting surveillance drones and satellites, or finding the data trails left behind by spies inside defense networks. Sorting through all this data is also necessary for making unmanned [...]
It was an event a century in the making. At 2:09 PM Pacific Standard Time on Feb. 4, the first full-scale prototype of Northrop Grumman’s X-47B carrier-capable drone fighter took off on from Edwards Air Force Base in California for its inaugural test flight. “Taking off under hazy skies, the X-47B climbed to an altitude of 5,000 feet, flew several racetrack-type patterns, and landed safely at 2:38 PM PST,” Northrop announced in a press release. “The flight provided test data to verify and validate system software for guidance and navigation, and the aerodynamic control of the tailless design.”
Forget robotic spy planes, drone fighter-bombers and self-landing orbital snoops saboteurs laboratories. In the world of secretive Pentagon aerospace projects, none are more sensational than the high-flying, Mach-6 Blackswift.
With the latest delays, it now seems likely the Joint Strike Fighter program will take 21 years from concept to combat-readiness. And that’s all-too-typical for a major U.S. weapon program; the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft and the F-22 stealth jet took just as long. These decades-long developments aren’t just a waste of time, effort, and cash. They can be self-defeating. “When systems finally reach the users, the world has changed around them,” Bill Sweetman warns at Ares. If the military isn’t careful, it could pour hundreds of billions of dollars into weapons that are obsolete the day they enter service.