World’s First Personalized Rugged Android Tablet

at80

AMREL announces the launch of Flexpedient® AT80, world’s first personalized, rugged Android tablet.

With the Flexpedient ® AT80 rugged tablet, you can:

  • Choose colors to match your style
  • Co-brand by engraving a logo on the tablet to promote your organization
  • Integrate application modules, such as Common Access Card (CAC) reader, barcode readers, fingerprint scanner, etc.

Weighing only 1.65 pounds and less than 1 inch thick, this rugged tablet is designed to meet MIL-STD 810G and boasts an unusually durable IP67 rating. Built from the ground-up to be rugged, it is far tougher than a commercial tablet in a hardened case.

Inspired by aeronautic design, the tablet’s one-of-a-kind proprietary channel shields connectors, modules, and sensors. The protective channel provides a wide area of mechanical attachment points for easy customization or integration of application modules.

“The Flexpedient® AT80 rugged tablet enables true off-the-shelf customization,” explains Kalvin Chen, AMREL’s VP of Operations. “AT80’s unique channel design allowed a two-finger biometric sensor to be added in less than a week. This biometric tablet will be used by a major league baseball team to monitor admissions at games.

“AMREL has sold rugged computers to military and Public Safety markets for 30 years,” explains Mr. Chen. “Leveraging our decades of ruggedness expertise, we designed the AT80 to be durable, mobile, and lightweight for industrial and commercial sectors as well as outdoor enthusiasts.”

Since rugged computers need less repair and replacement, they make economic sense. The Flexpedient® AT80 is especially well-suited for enterprise or personal use, because of its thin, lightweight frame.

Mr. Chen reports that AMREL is already fielding queries for specialized connectors, sensor modules, and joysticks.

Standard features include Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean), 8” 10-point multi-touch capacitive touchscreen display, front/back 5 MP cameras, 802.11 b/g/n, GPS, Bluetooth®.

Available for order now.  Learn more at:  AT80.amrel.com

Robot pelted by dodge balls [VIDEO]

In the great wheeled vs. legged unmanned system debate, the pro-wheel faction likes to point out the impracticality of bipedal robots.  They’re not only more challenging from an engineering perspective, but they also have a more difficult time maintaining their balance.

Building a robot with legs that balances well has given developers a great excuse to beat the living daylights out of their creations.  This blog has already featured a video of Boston Dynamics abusing their four-legged “Spot.” Not to be outdone, Dynamic Robotics Labs barrages their ATRIAS unmanned system with dodge balls.

Not only will robots take our jobs, help the elderly, drive our cars, and give us our medicine, but one day they will also take the place of the puny, bullied children everywhere.

To see more amazing ATRIAS videos, click here.

Self-driving car accident [VIDEO]

Autonomous cars supposedly have a great safety record.  They do not make mistakes.  This frequently heard assertion is hardly comforting after viewing the video below.

Volvo explained the accident by stating that the autonomous system involved was not designed to avoid pedestrians (that’s a more expensive option than the one installed in the car in the video).  In other words, it’s the fault of the people, not the car.

Volvo’s explanation that the people did not understand the nature of the automatic avoidance system seems plausible, but it raises a concern. Autonomous cars (which we have argued are really Unmanned Ground Vehicles) will not happen all at once. Self-driving subsystems will be adopted piecemeal over the years.  Will future passengers/drivers understand what capabilities are and are not autonomous in their cars?  Should we expect more videos like this? What is the responsibility of the car company to educate its clients?

This incident reminds me of airplane calamities. Have you ever noticed how often airplane disasters are blamed on “pilot error”? I have always had the suspicion that airlines fault pilots for big crashes, because to acknowledge mechanical failure (which could be caused by inadequate maintenance or overuse) may leave them vulnerable to greater legal liability.

As I wrote above, Volvo’s explanation is believable, but the similarity to the overuse of “pilot error” is unsettling.

Revolutionary Hawkeye 105mm Control Unit [VIDEO]

Built by the Mandus Group, the Hawkeye 105mm Weapon System is a revolutionary system that decreases recoil by 70% without degradation of performance. Recoil is dissipated by a hybrid of the traditional oil & gas system and what is known as a “soft recoil” system.  Watch the video below to see the mobile howitzer in action.


Notice that before the Hawkeye discharges, the barrel is cocked slightly forward.  This is part of the “soft recoil” control.

Recoil is so reduced that the Hawkeye can be mounted on a truck with only four bolts. The lack of recoil (and light weight) means the Hawkeye can be used on a wide variety of military vehicles including those that are wheeled, tracked, towed as well as rail, watercraft, and aircraft.

This mobile, powerful weapon is controlled by AMREL’s ROCKY DK10 Rugged Tablet. The Mandus group chose this 12.1” tablet because they needed modifications for a low volume order, which is AMREL’s specialty.

In order to be the Hawkeye’s Operational Control Unit (OCU), the DK10 tablet was modified to have thumbwheel connectors and joysticks. The DK10 OCU:

  • Issues elevation and transverse commands
  • Manages sensors
  • Engages the safety system
  • Enters firing missions & controls direct fire
  • Interacts with laser range finder
  • Interfaces with internal navigation system and electrical control box

In addition to functioning as a handheld control unit, the DK10 can be used in cab for navigation.

To learn more about AMREL customized table solutions, click here.

Why can’t the DoD pass an audit?

On February 6, 2014, Defense and media personnel gathered in the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes, not to award a medal – which is the hall’s normal use – but to celebrate a bookkeeping milestone. The Marine Corps had done something that no other military branch had done: passed an audit.

The labyrinthine Defense budgets have proven immune to normal accounting procedures. The Department of Defense (DoD) is the only government agency that has failed to comply with a 1992 law that all departments get their records in order. No one is even going to try to audit the Pentagon itself until 2017. The Marines had been the only service to pass an audit.

Unfortunately, the number of military services that have passed an audit have once again returned to zero. On March 23, 2015, the DoD’s Office of the Inspector General revoked their earlier glowing recommendation of the Marines’ record keeping. There are allegations of sloppy paperwork, missing records, and independent auditors who may not be so independent.

According to news articles, folks high up in the Inspector General office ignored their team’s report on the inadequacy of the Marine’s accounts. Furthermore, a civilian auditing team that was supposed to bring in an outside point-of-view may have been compromised.

This is not a small matter. As the Reuters’ news service noted:

“Chronic pay errors damp troop morale. Incompatible logistics and personnel systems complicate deployments. And the lack of reliable accounts conceals huge sums lost to waste, fraud and mismanagement.”

Reuters’ did an investigative piece about the failed audit (evidently a few investigative reporters still exist). To read it, click here.

We asked for an opinion from Rob Culver, AMREL’s Director of Business Development, DoD Programs. In addition to his career in Special Forces, he spent a number of years in procurement.  As someone who has been an end-user, a vendor as well as an acquisition officer, he has a unique perspective.

According to Mr. Culver:

“Part of the problem is the fact that DOD is not a team.  There are more than 30 different bureaucratic entities involved in procurement and financial management. Don’t forget the sixteen Assistant Secretaries of Defense, four Deputy Secretaries of Defense, five Undersecretaries, Joints Chiefs of Staff with their ten subordinate directorates and on and on.

“Most of the above is duplicated by the individual military services (USA, USN, USAF, USMC). This doesn’t include the fifteen+ independent agencies under OSD as well as the nine Unified Combatant Command. Of course, there are the ever present meddling fingers or Congress and the Whitehouse.

No one, absolutely no one in any of these individual fiefdoms, is ever rewarded for cooperating outside their own little DoD entity. Employees are rewarded for protecting their bosses’ turf.

“I don’t have an answer. I’m just pointing out the inherent dysfunction of DoD’s highly politicized, bureaucratic labyrinth. Soldiers don’t run DoD; civilian politicians and political appointees do.  DoD is criticized for not being able to pass an audit, but I suspect the last thing Congress wants is for DoD to completely and unabashedly open its financial kimono.”

Whatever you think of Donald Rumsfeld, Mr. Culver feels he hit the nail on the head with this speech, given early in his term as Secretary of Defense:

“… The topic today is an adversary that poses a threat, a serious threat, to the security of the United States of America. This adversary is one of the world’s last bastions of central planning. It governs by dictating five-year plans. From a single capital, it attempts to impose its demands across time zones, continents, oceans, and beyond. With brutal consistency, it stifles free thought and crushes new ideas. It disrupts the defense of the United States and places the lives of men and women in uniform at risk.

“Perhaps this adversary sounds like the former Soviet Union, but that enemy is gone: our foes are more subtle and implacable today. You may think I’m describing one of the last decrepit dictators of the world. But their day, too, is almost past, and they cannot match the strength and size of this adversary.

“The adversary’s closer to home. It’s the Pentagon bureaucracy. Not the people, but the processes. Not the civilians, but the systems. Not the men and women in uniform, but the uniformity of thought and action that we too often impose on them.”