Flexpedient® Technology enables one computer to run a variety of applications, including robotics and biometrics. This field-expedient system allows developers to protect proprietary technology while deploying it in an interoperable solution. To see just how simple it is, watch this video.
The direction for unmanned systems and all of the Defense community is clear; we must do more with less and do it faster. We need to create the best possible systems for tomorrow’s needs as soon as possible. One niggling little problem: what does tomorrow look like?
For example, do we develop unmanned systems with multiple assets or a single asset? Which payload configuration will be desirable for the future warfighter?
The obvious answer would seem to be, the more the better. Take the case of Sensitive Site Exploitation (SSE). Soldiers would love to have a robot that can enter a potentially dangerous house and clear it with non-lethal stun grenades. Of course, any armed application should be matched with optical surveillance capabilities as well. Olfactory sensors would be valuable in detecting explosives. When you add to the wish list an IED jammer and maybe the ability to detect ABC weapons, a multiple-asset unmanned system seems virtually certain. Read more
One of the big changes for military vendors in recent years has been the greater emphasis placed on acquisition of Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) products by the Department of Defense (DoD). In the past, COTS constituted a few percent of all items purchased by the DoD. While the overall amount is still low, some weapon systems are composed by as much as 50% of COTS. What are the good, the bad and the ugly about COTS?
1) Cost: One of the main drivers for the acquisition of COTS has been the price. By definition, COTS products have no development cost, so, in theory, the DoD gets a cheaper item. Despite its behemoth budget, Defense still accounts for a minuscule part of the electronics market. So, by buying from the much larger commercial sector, DoD also benefits from economy of scale. Read more
See for yourself just how compact the ROCKY DB6 handheld is. Put it in a cargo pocket or hold it in your hand, the ROCKY DB6 handheld is the smallest rugged computer with full Windows/Linux in the world. To get a FREE life size cut-out, just click here.
At a gathering of unmanned systems professionals, I heard a lot of griping about product development. Trying to deliver a system that the government wants was impossible, because of the time lag. Who knows what the Department of Defense would want or need 2 or 5 years from now? All participants in the meeting agreed that it was the governments’ fault. The Feds simply weren’t telling us what they wanted. Well, it’s not for the lack of trying. It seems every week there’s a new roadmap, report, vision, or long-term plan. I recently reviewed my personal collection of downloaded documents and came up with: Read more
Those who work in an engineering/hi-tech culture know the importance of “specs.” Go to any biometric solution provider’ workplace, and you will see highly trained professionals closely examining the latest RFP, eagerly analyzing the specifications, as well as the Scope of Work.
Focusing on specifications alone can lead to not only tunnel vision, but also to a kind of passivity. We shouldn’t sit around waiting for the RFP to tell us what to do. We should go out into the field at every opportunity and seek input from end-users. That’s why AMREL is a fixture at events such as the Tactical Network Topology (TNT) and Biometrics Field Experiments (BFEX). Read more
Tight budgets = less robots?
The always interesting P.W. Singer had some interesting things to say in his article, “U-Turn: Unmanned Systems Could be Casualties of Budget Pressures” (Armed Forces Journal). In an era of shrinking budgets, he worries that funding for unmanned systems will suffer.
“As the Pentagon wrestles with declining overall budget numbers, the new becomes more directly threatening to the old. And in bureaucracies, the old is not only more established, but is often at an advantage in any battle.”
As evidence of his concern, he notes that out of the 25 current costliest Pentagon acquisitions programs, “… there isn’t a single U — for ‘unmanned’ — on the list.” Read more
“Imagine a test where you: blow dust at your laptop for hours at a time; vibrate it all day for days at a time; subject it to altitude variations of 0 to 10,000 feet; operate it in temperatures reaching 130 degrees Fahrenheit; virtually soak the laptop in water for two days; expose it to humidity of 95 percent for prolonged periods. While this may seem like a specially designed test to force a laptop to fail, the truth is that this was an actual situation.”
A few years back, some folks decided that it would be amusing to take an AMREL ROCKY computer on a bike ride through the harsh environment of the Baja. Kacey Smith, author of the Baja GPS Guidebook for off-road dirt bikes, reported that the ROCKY computer successfully operated through extremes of rain, vibration, and heat. What really surprised her was how it survived the omnipresent dust. Read more
The C4ISR explosion
The need for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) is a major force driving the tremendous growth in unmanned systems. C4ISR systems constitute approximately 5% of many national defense budgets. One estimate of global C4ISR market in 2010 is $63.6 billion.
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