The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory‘s (NRL) Acoustics Division, with Bluefin Robotics, executed a record setting 507 kilometer (315 mile), long-endurance autonomy research mission using its heavyweight-class mine countermeasures autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), Reliant.
The Reliant, shown here, outside New York City after completing a record setting endurance of 109 hours traveling nearly 315 miles. (Photo from U.S. Naval Research Laboratory)
NRL’s Reliant AUV, when equipped with a low frequency broadband (LFBB) sonar system, is perhaps best known as the prototype for the new U.S. Navy Knifefish mine-hunter.
Navigating from the waters of Boston Harbor, the 20 foot long, 1,350 pound, ‘heavyweight’ AUV traveled south past Cape Cod, headed west through Nantucket Sound between Martha’s Vineyard and the mainland, and then continued south of Long Island to the approaches to New York City.
The fully autonomous endurance mission was designed to push the boundaries of traditional AUVs with the objective to uncover the challenges and requirements for significantly extending AUV endurance for new applications.
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
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.
(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 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.”
In an effort to stem work-related injuries and speed the assembly of munitions aboard aircraft carriers, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) spearheaded the development of a more efficient and ergonomic way to build bombs at sea.
The Ergonomics of Bombs at Sea. (Photo provided by the Office of Naval Research)
The ONR-sponsored improvements will allow sailors to move around more freely and assemble multiple bombs simultaneously on smaller, individual stands.
“The main objective here is to improve the quality of life for sailors,” said Tom Gallagher, who manages the ONR TechSolutions program that oversaw the improvements.
“They asked for a better, safer, more comfortable way to build these weapons, and that’s what we’re delivering.”
For safety reasons, crews try to avoid storing assembled bombs aboard ships. Instead, sailors work in the ship’s magazine to put together weapons as needed.
In addition to being heavy, bombs include many components such as noses, tails, fuses, lugs and wires that have to be assembled without power tools. Until now, this has been done on a long table in confined space, requiring repetitive and often awkward motions that can result in painful and costly injuries, especially to the back.
Do you remember what it used to be like to “log on” to the Internet 15 years ago? I do.
It was a whole event, complete with a soundtrack. That errr-rrr-rrr-rrrr-kkkreeeeeeek-eee-eeee-eeee that indicated a successful connection was as welcome as it was irritating. Yes, it has been a slow, arduous climb to the high speed, rapid fire connectivity that we have today.
It was a necessary evolution. For the sake of progress…and sanity. Now that cat videos and Facebook posts are available with the flick of a mouse click, could you imagine going back to dial-up speeds?
People would riot in the streets.
So if we’re unwilling to go back to the dark days of dialup, why should NASA still have to operate at those speeds in space? That’s right; they shouldn’t.
So how are they going to meet the ever-increasing information need for speed?
The Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (graphic illustration provided by NASA/Released)
The LLCD is NASA’s first dedicated two-way laser communications system. It’s the first demonstration that anyone has ever done with laser communications from the moon back to the Earth. It’s a pinpointed way to transfer information to and from space using lasers. Think fiber optic cables without the cable.
The Fire Scout system has proven itself in numerous and diverse operational deployments.
It has done this by supporting troops on the ground in Afghanistan, completing weapons Rapid Deployment Capability (RDC) testing with the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS), continuing deployments on Guided Missile Frigates (FFG) class ships, and now preparing to welcome a new air vehicle to its ranks.
This week the newest Fire Scout variant, MQ-8C Fire Scout, will take to the skies for the first time.
The MQ-8C Fire Scout.(Photo provided by the U.S. Navy)
Our MQ-8C is an RDC effort in response to an urgent request to provide maritime based Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) at extended ranges from host ships in less than 24 months.
First flight is set to occur this month, 18 months after the contract award to prime integrator, Northrop- Grumman.
Leveraging off the existing MQ-8 Fire Scout infrastructure, the C variant provides the Navy with double the endurance and triple the payload capability of its predecessor, allowing for 15+ hours of flight time and over 2,600 lbs. of payload. This increase in capability will allow us the opportunity to put additional weight, perhaps sensors, on the aircraft.
Top Technology is an Armed with Science series that highlights the latest and greatest federal laboratory inventions, technology and achievements. Want to suggest an invention? Email us at email@example.com
Photo from the DESCENT modeling software demonstration. (Media provided by the Army Research Lab/Released)
The Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has created software designed to determine the worst case scenario when it comes to rotary aircraft (see: helicopters) in order to improve sustainability and help pilots to live through crashes. So how does it work? So glad you asked.
What is it?
“Descent is ARL’s code for modeling the flight and the landing or impact of the helicopter that loses some or all of its main rotor power, either through the pilot’s choice, in order to correct an uncontrollable flight, or because of system damage that causes the rotor to lose power,” explains Andrew Drysdale, an aerospace engineer at Army Research Laboratory.
He and his colleague, Dr. Matthew Floros, worked directly on this technology in order to improve military operations.
“What descent is meant to do is basically find the conditions where it’s safe to do that type of landing and then what conditions it’s not,” Dr. Floros explains.
In order to do that, they have to put the helicopters to the ultimate test.