(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.”
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.
The Navy is working to provide new accuracy for 60mm mortars. (photo provided by the Office of Naval Research)
The handheld mortar has long been a staple for the U.S. Marine Corps, and yesterday the weapon got a major boost as combat instructors at Marine Corps Base Quantico successfully conducted a live-fire demonstration of a new mortar sight, sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR).
The prototype sight, called a Fire Control Unit (FCU), attaches by hand near the muzzle of a 60mm mortar, and provides users with a dramatic increase in target accuracy, most notably at night.
“The nighttime capability is awesome—I mean awesome,” said Sgt. Garrett Dennard, mortars assistant instructor for the Infantry Officer Course.
“At night by the second round, I trusted it 100 percent.”
Until now, Marines have had to rely on their eyes for aim, looking over the end of the barrel at a given target, resulting in greater inaccuracies.
Tests with the new sight were so successful that six prototypes have been requested by Marine Corps units in Afghanistan, and are currently en route.
(photo provided by the Office of Naval Research)
Answering the fleet’s call for more authentic training environments, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) is delivering a more cost-effective, realistic simulator to train sailors responsible for directing the movement of helicopters aboard ships.
The Helicopter Control Officer Trainer (HCOT) is being used by HCOs and Landing Signalman Enlisted (LSE) personnel at naval bases in San Diego and Norfolk, where courses required by the chief of naval operations are taught.
The trainer initially was developed after Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder visited Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, Calif., and talked to sailors about ways to make their virtual training more realistic, taking into account moving ships, crashing waves and blinding rain, among other variables.
“These dedicated sailors play an important role in shipboard aviation, and they wanted a training environment that was as lifelike as the challenges they face in the shipboard environment,” Klunder said.
“Staying in constant contact with the fleet allows us to quickly and effectively address concerns from the flight deck up to the bridge without breaking the bank.”
As the Department of the Navy (DoN) continues to emphasize the need for energy security, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) today announced it will increase its support for Energy Excelerator, a Hawaii-based program that funds development of new and innovative energy ideas.
(graphic illustration provided by Jessica L. Tozer)
The program, part of ONR’s Asia-Pacific Technology and Education Program (APTEP), is an effort to discover groundbreaking energy technologies, and supports startup companies in bringing those technologies to the market.
The $30 million investment from ONR will not only help such promising companies grow, but also draw in other partners to help energy innovation flourish. The current 17 Energy Excelerator portfolio companies have raised more than $38 million in follow-on funding over the past three years.
“In the modern era, technological breakthroughs offer unprecedented opportunities to move toward diversified energy sources,” said Dr. Richard Carlin, director of ONR’s Sea Warfare and Weapons Department. “It’s vital for our sailors and Marines, and the nation, to discover and develop new sustainable sources of energy—as well as dramatically improve the way we manage energy.”
Step onto an elevator beside Martin Drake, U.S. Central Command’s chief science and technology advisor, and one might be surprised to hear him deliver to perfect strangers an unclassified tutorial he calls “Science and Technology 101.”
Army Pfc. David Diaz ollects a DNA sample for biometrics from an Afghan man at a security checkpoint in Afghanistan’s Khost province. Central Command’s Science and Technology Division has been a major advocate of the technologies used for biometric identification and battlefield forensics to support deployed warfighters. (photo provided by U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Trumbull)
The impromptu briefing completed, Drake is known to cajole his unsuspecting “students” into raising their right hands so he can deputize them as “honorary deputy science advisors for U.S. Central Command.”
“I tell them, ‘It takes a village to be the best and to be able to understand where technology is going,’” said Drake, who runs Centcom’s dozen-member Science and Technology Division. “We can’t do this by ourselves, and we need their help.”
The elevator encounters are just one example of the team’s unrelenting quest to identify better ways to support warfighters in the command’s demanding and complex area of operations.
The office members, an eclectic mix of active-duty forces, military retirees and civilian employees, scour the Internet, professional journals and technology expositions to seek out new and emerging technology-related capabilities.
That boils down to taking gaps and requirements as identified by U.S. forces and partner nations in the theater, converting them into technical requirements, then going out to the science and technology community for solutions.