DAPRA binoculars take advantage of the brains processing power to spot threats.
DARPA have been field testing a system called the Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System since 2007, and have recently announced a 91 percent success rate in detecting threats. Using conventional binoculars, soldiers currently miss around 47 percent of threats.
The system works by feeding video from a high powered camera into a computer system which picks out around 10 key images per second. While that’s far too many to process unaided, the system uses an EEG cap worn by the user which can analyse brainwave data in real time. When a users brain detects a threat it triggers the P-300 brainwave, which is “thought to be involved in stimulus evaluation or categorization”. Even though the user may not have been directly aware of the threat, the system is able to harness the brain’s own processing power to alert the user to double check an image.
In other words, CT2WS harnesses that capacity for detection, without relying on conscious input from the wearer. And, at least according to these field tests, it seems to work extremely well when combined with human input. When tested without someone wearing an EEG cap, the system produced 810 false alarms every hour. Add a soldier decked out in EEG sensors to the mix, and that figure dropped to five false positives.
Inspired by biological organisms, DARPA is developing a self-sufficient robotic platform that can fuel itself by finding, consuming and extracting energy from biomass—basically, by eating. The “Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot” (EATR) has applications as a roving military reconnaissance droid, which could perform long-range endurance missions without needing to be manually refueled. Its powerful multi-fingered arms are designed to rip trees and bushes out of the earth, feeding them into its “biomass furnace”, which then powers a steam generator and converts the biomass into electrical energy. Interestingly, the robot is equipped not only to run on plants and other natural substances, but also to loot conventional fuel supplies. The commercial potential of this is amazing—creating clean, usable power from renewable plant matter—but there’s a lingering sense of unease, because you might assume it could also run on other forms of organic matter—human bodies, for example. The developers were quick to point out that the EATR is in fact a mild-mannered vegetarian, and knows what not to eat because it is able to distinguish between the different kinds of organic matter. Still, it sounds Mortal Engines-esque to me.
Image: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) describes the Phoenix program: “The goal of the Phoenix program is to develop and demonstrate technologies to cooperatively harvest and re-use valuable components from retired, nonworking satellites in GEO and demonstrate the ability to create new space systems at greatly reduced cost.”
The U.S. military is moving along with plans to recycle space junk into new, working satellites. Several engineering companies announced new agreements with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency yesterday (July 25). The deals offer a glimpse into the technology to be incorporated into the final project.
DARPA is researching how to harvest working antenna, solar arrays and other parts from otherwise broken satellites that are still in geosynchronous orbit, about 22,000 miles (35,406 kilometers) above Earth. The military agency wants to build satellite “mechanics” that can go into space, remove working parts from non-working communications satellites, and then transfer the parts onto new, very small satellite base structures that DARPA calls “satlets.”