The Department of Defense’s (DoD) ambitious smartphone program may or may not reach its goal of providing advanced mobile communication devices to the warfighter, but it certainly has already scored one noteworthy achievement: creating stories for journalists. At last count, Google News has 300+ entries for “military smartphone.” Most of these stories report that the single biggest obstacle to smartphones deployment is security. Read more
AMREL releases the first Payload Controller that uses swappable, field-expedient Radio Control Modules (RCMs). Radio components are integrated into the RCM, which fit into AMREL’s revolutionary swappable device bays. RCMs can be easily switched in and out by ordinary personnel, enabling it to easily change applications.
Developed under AMREL’s Flexpedient® Technology, RCMs were first used in AMREL OCU solutions. RCMs enabled AMREL to be the first company to produce an OCU solution that could control heterogeneous unmanned systems – even when they have diverse operating systems and different origins of manufacture. Read more
An IEEE Spectrum article features an Al Jazeera video (see below) about Libyan rebels making their own weapons. The rebels transform a child’s toy into a weaponized UGV, prompting IEEE to conclude that “Anyone can (on principle, at least) build a robot, and given the need or the motivation, anyone can put a gun on one…”
Officer.com recently ran an introductory article about Public Safety using what in the Defense world are referred to as Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (TUAV). No runway needed describes various applications, which for the most part, are the civilian equivalent of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR).
Experts are repeatedly quoted that the technology not only exists for Public Safety applications, but also is extremely mature. The two main challenges are delivering solutions that are economical enough for cash-strapped civilian agencies, and, of course, FAA regulatory fears about mid-air collisions. Read more
There’s nothing quite like the prospect of a half of a billion dollars to get the blood pumping, the brain scheming, and the pundits pontificating. The President’s ambitious Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), which includes $70 million for robots, may not revive the American manufacturing sector, but it certainly has provided fodder for the technology media. Read more
In describing computer displays, what do the terms “transmissive,” “reflective,” and “transflective” mean?
Transmissive is the most commonly used means of illuminating a computer display. The display is lit up from the back. While this method is fine for indoor use, strong sunlight may overwhelm it, making the computer screen difficult to read.
Reflective method does very well in the bright outdoors. The computer is illuminated by the reflected light of the computer’s surroundings. The brighter the sun, the brighter the display. However, it does not do well in dim settings, i.e. indoors.
Transflective combines the transmissive and reflective methods of illumination. This gives the viewer the best of both worlds, enabling the display to be optimized for the greatest variety of environments.
Even though transflective appears to be the best method, it may not be the best for you. You need to consider your applications specific needs, including energy usage, heat generation, and issues such as compatibility with night vision goggles. Display brightness may also be affected by chemical treatment of the surface (anti-glare coating), viewing angle, contrast controls, and a host of other factors. For more information, see Are nits the only important rating for hi-bright display?
Despite the ad with the drumming bunny, batteries in unmanned systems do not last forever. In fact the performing rabbit robot’s power lasts only three to four minutes.
Battlefield robots do better (a typical UGV batteries may last about 2 hours), but power is a huge challenge. This seems counter-intuitive, since one of the main advantages of unmanned systems is that, by definition, they don’t have to lug around people. However, mobility is only one source of power consumption. Communications and cooling systems may actually be more of a drain than simple transport. Read more
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