Top Technology is an Armed with Science series that highlights the latest and greatest federal laboratory inventions which are available for transfer to business partners. Want to suggest an invention? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Technology: Machine Vision System
Agency: Naval Research Laboratory
The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has developed a method for the rapid recognition and location of surface shapes in range images. This method can be used for face recognition, munitions identification, and to train robots to “see.”
What is it?
It’s time for the robots to see the light. Or, anything, apparently. Unlike other image-based methods, the NRL approach is completely insensitive to variation in lighting or viewpoint and is extremely time-efficient. Being able to see – and process what is being seen – in a timely manner is ideal. That’s a visible advantage, if you know what I mean. The patented NRL technique uses “tripod operators,” which extract sample points from a range image in order to recognize the underlying surface shape.
What does that mean?
Coupled with a suitable range imaging scanner (such as the patented NRL Correlation Scanner) this technique enables the automation of many tasks previously relegated to human labor.
Vacuum tubes are used all the time in technology, in science, in research and development. Now, these tubes are about to join together with high speed technology to change the way wireless networks communicate.
You see, the submillimeter wave, or terahertz, part of the electromagnetic spectrum falls between the frequencies of 0.3 and 3 terahertz, between microwaves and infrared light. Historically, device physics has prevented traditional solid state electronics (microchips) from operating at the terahertz scale.
The world’s first terahertz-class traveling-wave tube amplifier. (Image provided by Northrop Grumman/Released)
New vacuum power amplifier demonstrated at 0.85 terahertz.
Unlocking this band’s potential may benefit military applications such as data rate communications, improved radar and unique methods of spectroscopy-imaging techniques that provide better tools for scientific research.
However, access to these applications is limited due to physics.
Researchers under DARPA’s Terahertz Electronics (THz) program have designed and demonstrated a 0.85 Terahertz power amplifier using a micromachined vacuum tube-a world’s first. The achievement comes from DARPA-funded researchers at Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, who built the 1 centimeter-wide traveling wave vacuum tube.
The vacuum tube power amplifier is only one achievement of the broader THz program, which seeks to develop a variety of breakthrough component and integration technologies necessary to one day build complex THz circuits for communications and sensing.
(Photo provided by the Naval Research Lab/Released)
Marines in Hawaii last week demonstrated that using handheld devices and special software to automatically sift through loads of data can help ease information overload and deliver made-to-order intelligence to the front lines.
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) partnered with U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific (MARFORPAC) Experimentation Center and the 3rd Marine Regiment for the third annual Agile Bloodhound demonstration at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
The demonstration showed how the integration of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets—such as imagery from an unmanned aircraft sensor—and command-and-control (C2) capabilities—such as communications and networking—can be tailored to speed decision-making by expeditionary forces.
“We’re trying to create a user-oriented world view for Marines,” said Col. William Zamagni, deputy director of ONR’s Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department. “Whether they’re in command centers with PCs, in vehicles with laptops or on foot with smartphones, Marines need access to the most pertinent information possible.”
Department of Defense
A Pentagon official says that, with technology doubling in advancement roughly every decade, the Defense Department needs to ensure capable and flexible weapons systems to meet future challenges.
“The military, while leaner, needs to be more agile, flexible, ready and technologically advanced,” Stephen Welby, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for systems engineering told the Defense Daily’s Open Architecture Summit.
Open systems and standard-based components, Welby explained, will enable the department to address obsolescence.
“We should be thinking about open architecture as the means to produce new capabilities and to address agility against emerging threats and … to expand and fill in the gaps.”
But, Welby added, if the government wants competition then it must plan for it. “The government needs to share the data that allows the players to come to the table smart.”
Building capacity to be more flexible in the face of an uncertain future also requires thinking about alternative futures, particularly affordability and its span of options, Welby noted.
This MODIS image taken by NASA’s Aqua satellite on Nov. 10, 2013, shows an iceberg that was part of the Pine Island Glacier and is now separating from the Antarctica continent. What appears to be a connection point on the top left portion of the iceberg is actually ice debris floating in the water.
The original rift that formed the iceberg was first observed in October 2011 but as the disconnection was not complete, the “birth” of the iceberg had not yet happened. It is believed the physical separation took place on or about July 10, 2013, however the iceberg persisted in the region, adjacent to the front of the glacier.
The iceberg is estimated to be 21 miles by 12 miles (35 km by 20 km) in size, roughly the size of Singapore.
A team of scientists from Sheffield and Southampton universities will track it and try to predict its path using satellite data.
Photo and information provided by NASA
Follow Armed with Science on Facebook and Twitter!
Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.
Red blood cells are the most transfused blood product in battlefield trauma care. Unfortunately, they are sometimes in limited supply in a battlefield environment.
Red blood cells viewed with a scanning electron micrograph using false color. Courtesy of Mustafa Mir, Sam Copeland and Gabriel Popescu via the National Science Foundation. (Photo provided by DARPA/Released)
DARPA created its Blood Pharming program to potentially relieve this shortage by developing an automated culture and packaging system that would yield a fresh supply of transfusable red blood cells from readily available cell sources.
If the program is successful, it will eliminate the existing drawbacks of laboratory grown red blood cells, including cost, production efficiency and scalability, compared to those grown inside the human body.
Pharmed blood could also offer additional benefits. These potential benefits include eliminating the risk of infections from donors, on-demand availability, avoiding the detrimental effects of storing donated blood, and circumventing the issue of matching blood types between donor and recipient.
Before pharmed blood becomes practical for common use, the production costs must be significantly reduced. Under the Blood Pharming program, DARPA has decreased the cost of the chemical stock required to support blood growth for one unit of blood from more than $90,000 per unit to less than $5,000 per unit.
DARPA believes that future reductions in the cost of chemical stock for unmodified red blood cells will eventually make pharmed blood practical for basic transfusions.
When Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON), a so-called Sungrazing comet, sweeps by the Sun TODAY, telescopes developed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) will be lined up for a spectacular front row view.
Comet ISON, in a photo here taken November 6th, makes its closest approach to the sun on November 28. (Photo provided by the Naval Research Lab)
The NRL-developed Sun-Earth Connection Coronal and Heliospheric Investigation (SECCHI) instrument suite aboard NASA’s STEREO mission and the NRL-developed Large Angle Spectrometric and Coronagraphic Telescope (LASCO) aboard the ESA/NASA SOHO mission will be perfectly situated for a view of Comet ISON.
NRL’s Karl Battams explains that because of their position and capability, “SECCHI and LASCO will be unquestionably the most important telescopes for a few days on either side of ISON’s closest approach to the sun on November 28. These coronagraphs will be the only telescopes in space or on Earth that will be able to continuously monitor the comet during this truly critical phase.”
NRL researchers developed SECCHI and LASCO to study the Sun’s corona and Coronal Mass Ejections, disruptive space weather storms that have an impact on the Earth. As an unintended side-benefit, SECCHI and LASCO telescopes also provide researchers with a wealth of comet images.
(Photo illustration provided by DARPA/Released)
Despite the best efforts of the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to protect the health of U.S. service members and veterans, the effects of neuropsychological illness brought on by war, traumatic injuries and other experiences are not always easily treated.
While current approaches can often help to alleviate the worst effects of these illnesses, they are imprecise and not universally effective. Demand for new therapies is high as mental disorders are the leading cause of hospital bed days and the second leading cause of medical encounters for active duty service members.
Among veterans, ten percent of those receiving treatment from the Veterans’ Health Administration are provided mental health care or substance abuse counseling.
DARPA created the Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies (SUBNETS) program to pursue advances in neuroscience and neurotechnology that could lead to new clinical understanding of how neuropsychological illnesses manifest in the brain and to advanced therapies to reduce the burden and severity of illness in afflicted troops and veterans.