Under The Beautiful Sea

Under_the_sea

The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) is looking for a place to stash some new military capabilities.

In a DARPA news release (11 January 2013) it states they are looking to support the navy by placing hibernated deep-sea capsules with payloads at under water locations and at the seafloor strategically around the globe–“almost half of the world’s oceans are more than four kilometers deep” providing “cheap stealth”.

The capsules with carry non-lethal payloads for “operational support and situational awareness”–such as command, control, communication, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR). 

Examples of pre-deployed payloads could be unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and probably, unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). The release specifically states that this is “not a weapons program,” but you could imagine future evolutions of this.

The initial capabilities sought are for “situational awareness, disruption, deception, networking, rescue, or any mission that benefits from being pre-distributed and hidden.” 

The deep-sea capsules will need to survive under extreme pressure and be able to communicate at vast ocean depths to be remotely awoken and recalled when needed. 

Having capabilities available when and where needed–from the bottom of the sea to forward deployment–potentially mitigating some use of costly and non-stealth land bases.

I think this is an exciting idea especially since China was able to demonstrate its anti-satellite missiles in January 2007 in shooting down its own satellite, and I would think that these new underwater pods being sought may be able to provide some alternatives for sensing and communicating in conflicts where satellites are destroyed or disabled and/or other military muscle in not readily available. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Rakel SdPC)

Flying Gizmo At Brookstone

I took this video of a flying drone at Brookstone at Avetura Mall in Miami. 

The drone is flying among the crowds and actually goes right over my head a couple of times–I literally had to duck (as I think the salesperson was having some fun with me recording)!

The device is called the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 and sells for $299.

The drone is being controlled via wi-fi by a iPhone and also works with iPads and Droid devices.

The controlled flying as well as the stunts seemed easy to do. 

It has a front facing camera (and I think the salesperson said it has a rear-facing one too). 

You can capture the flight imagery and post the recorded video and still photos online. 

The quadricopter has stabilization controls and hull protection to keep the device safe and in the air. 

If you appreciate this technology and likes to have some fun, you may want to take this for a little spin around the yard, park, and beach. 

Also, watch out at the mall–this flying gizmo may be coming right at you. 😉

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

The Guardian of Israel

“The Guardian of Israel neither slumbers or sleeps.” (Psalms 121:4)

Much is being celebrated about Israel’s new Iron Dome missile defense system with approximately 90% success rate for shooting down incoming missiles threatening populated areas and critical infrastructure.

However, Foreign Policy Magazine (20 November 2012) is touting another amazing advance by Israel, this time in robotic weapons systems.

It is called The Guardian Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV), and it is made by G-NIUS.

It’s a fully armored vehicle with 660 pounds of electronic sensors and weapons.

The Guardian can autonomously “run patrol of predetermined routes” or it can be controlled via remote or mobile command center.

– It can run at 50 miles per hour, has powerful off-road capability, and an robust obstacle detection and avoidance system.

– Guardian can carry 1.2 tons of ammunition and supplies.

– The robotic vehicle is outfitted with all-weather video and thermal cameras, microphones, loudspeakers, and electronic countermeasures.

– It alerts to suspicious activity, identifies sources of fire, and by human operator can open fire with “auto-taret acquisition”.

This versatile weaponized robot can be used for force protection or to guard strategic assets, it can be used for perimeter, border or convey security, and for combat or logistical support missions.

It is easy to see how UGVs like this, especially in concert with UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) can take on the enemy and help keep the troops out of harm’s way.

For the future of UGVs and UAVs, think of a swarm, with masses of robots managing the battlefield both with and without human operators, and the vision of Star Wars on the ground and in space is just generations of robots away.

We’re In It Together

This is a cool vision by Tom Clancy of the “future soldier” from the Ghost Recon game series.
The mixture of advanced weaponry, high-tech reconnaissance and surveillance, drones and robotics, future combat uniforms, and cloaking technology is just super.

If you have time and interest, there is another longer video here with footage that is particularly good starting at about the 3:40 marker.

Like Star Trek paving the way for real-life advances in technology and space exploration, Clancy’s future soldier will be another example of life imitating art.

When we marry the vision and creativity of our entertainment industry, with the technical skills of our scientists and engineers, and the risk-taking of our entrepreneurs, we can do truly awesome things.

“No one can do everything, but everyone can do something”–we’re in it together!

Keeping All Our Balls In The Air


This is the throwable panoramic ball camera.It has 36 cameras and when thrown in the air, takes 360-degree pictures of it’s surroundings as it reaches it’s apex (i.e. the highest point in the air).You can see behind you, above you, all around you even things that you didn’t even know where there.And you can pan, zoom, and scroll to get the precise view you want.The pictures are amazing–instantly, you have a birds eye view, but only better, because even a bird can’t see behind it’s head, but you can.The implications for artists, photo hobbyists, and outdoor enthusiasts is one thing, but then there are the possibilities for improved surveillance and reconnaissance for homeland and national security.Watch for camera balls to be used not only for throwing in beautiful and/or dangerous environments, but also for posting at security checkpoints, critical infrastructure, transportation hubs and more.One question I have is, whether the camera ball become a one-time use device, if you don’t catch it and it ends up smashing into the ground.Situational awareness is about to get a real bounce out of this one.

Kamikaze UAVs

Check out the new AeroVironment’s Switchblade–a weaponized Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)–demoed at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).
The Switchblade is a backpack-sized, portable drone that can be launched by our soldiers on the battlefield to locate the enemy and take them out.
The Switchblades are weaponized drones–they are easily deployed from their launch tunes and then piloted remotely or autonomously to recon enemy positions.
Once the enemy is located, the operator can arm the drone and quietly send it in on a suicide bombing run–flying straight into the enemy target.
Popular Science and MSNBC is reporting that the U.S. Army has made a multi-million dollar order for these little kamikazes. 
The video demonstrates how soldiers under attack quickly and effectively use the Swichblade drones to safely counter and strike against enemy attackers.
Instead of calling in for reinforcements, our troops will now have the capability to deploy their own aerial support–anytime, anywhere.
Self-sufficiency is a great thing, especially when the enemy thinks they have you pinned down–and then boom! 😉

Sensors, Sensors Everywhere

Three_surveillance_cameras

Sensors will soon be everywhere–waiting, watching, and working to capture information about you and the environment we inhabit.

Every sensor is an opportunityto collect data and use that data for making better decisions.

Of course, we see sensors deployed first and foremost from our military overseas, in Iraq and Afghanistan, which uses drones to spy on and strike on our adversaries. The drones are really flying platforms of sensors and in some cases with weapons at ready. According to the New York Times (20 June 2011) “From blimps to bugs, an explosion in aerial drones is transforming the way America fights and thinks about its wars..the pentagon now has some 7,000 aerial drones…[and] has asked for nearly $5 billion for drones for next year.” These drones are providing  “a Tsunami of data” from intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. The change to drones is so significant in our military that the Times reports that “already the Air Force is training more remote pilots, 350 this year alone, than fighter and bomber pilots combined.”
Similarly, the Wall Street Journal (5 July 2011) reports that another type of sensor–surveillance cameras–are being deployed big time in China with a new surveillance network in Chongqing of 500,000 cameras (Beijing already has 280,000 cameras in its system) “that officials says will prevent crime but that human-rights advocates warn could target political dissent.” While this project is significantly larger and more aggressive than other cities have deployed, China is certainly not alone in deploying surveillance cameras in their cities–Chicago has 10,000, New York has 8,000, and London has over 10,000.  According to the WSJ, the overall market last year for surveillance-equiptments sales, not including networking gear or software totaled $1.7 billion!  So smile, you are on camera–and it’s candid, indeed.
A third article ran in Government Computer News (July 2011) on a more innocuous type of sensors to be used–this being the mass deployment of mobile sensors for the National Weather Service (NWS) on vehicle fleets such as Greyhound buses etc.  Beginning in October, “2,000 commercial vehicles will be equipped with sensors…and will be sending data to NWS in near real time.  We will be rolling out coverage on the national level.”  The mobile sensors will be taking 100,000 observations daily–every 10 seconds, about every 300 meters–measuring temperature, humidity, dew, precipitation, and solar information.”  In the future, we are looking at the potential of a “a sensing probe in every car”–for collecting information on hazardous roads, traffic patterns, and preventing accidents. Other applications for mobile sensors could be for “monitoring chemical and biological agents,” nuclear and radiological ones, or CO2 and Ozone and more.
While sensors can collect data that can be used to analyze situations early and often to help people; certainly, they can also be misused to spy on ones one citizens and suppress freedom. It can be a slippery slope.  Perhaps that why Wired Magazine recently asked (July 2011) who’s “Watching the Watchers,” making the distinction between:
1) Surveillance–the monitoring of events by those above, the authorities–with CCTV etc. and monitoring events from control rooms, potentially from anywhere around the world.
2) Sousveillance–the monitoring of events by those below, the citizens–with everyday smartphones, cameras, and videocams and posting the digital images and sound bytes to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and so on for the world to see.
With IPV6 providing enough Internet address for attaching sensors to every atom on the surface of the earth and sensors becoming smaller and more imperceptible, we can soon monitor and report on everything, everywhere all the time. Some of the biggest challenges remain ensuring the information monitored is kept secure, private, and used legally and ethically and sifting through all the data to identify the truly meaningful information from what’s just noise.
(Source Photo: here)

>Situational Awareness and Enterprise Architecture

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EA is a tool for situational awareness and planning to drive modernization, transformation, and improved results. Enterprise architecture helps us as organizations to be more aware of our business and technology resources, desired outcomes, and ways to link resources/investments to results.

As far as mankind can remember, we have always looked to plan ahead to manage change and complexity. In the times of the pharaohs, people looked to the stars for a sign of what was to come. In past centuries, others have looked into the crystal ball to foretell events and plan accordingly. To many, these rudimentary methods were all they had to gain a semblance control over their lives and a world that probably felt very out of control much of the time.

Now the military has a crystal ball all of its own to deploy to the battleground to provide better situational awareness to our troops, and this is particularly helpful for identifying the enemy in close urban combat, as that which we find ourselves fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, now-a-days.

National Defense Magazine, March 2008, reports that ODF Optronics, a technology company in Tel Aviv, Israel has developed an eye-ball surveillance system “which consists of a hardened sphere that houses a sophisticated camera system and comes with a wireless display unit. Durable eye ball can be thrown over walls, into streets, tunnels, houses, or any other place of interest. Once the sphere hits the ground it establishes a 360-degree video image of the surrounding area and feeds it to operators holding the small display unit. It also features audio and day/night sensors.”

Other models like the omni-directional system, “is a sensor platform that is housed inside a hardened pole that can be mounted on top of a vehicle. It provides a 360-degree field of view for the crew inside…A five camera system is housed inside the cylindrical structure that transmits video images to a rugged laptop sitting inside the vehicle.”

ODF is now working with the DoD technical support working group and DARPA developing new sensors, because they “understood that military forces need to see the world around them.” But the truth is with all need to see the world around us with ever more comprehensive views, better resolution and clarity of image, and enhanced processing to understand what we are seeing. Only with this type of situational awareness are we better able to plan and respond to the world around us.

Like the ODF eye-ball for high-tech military surveillance and reconnaissance, our organizations need the ability to capture and analyze information and develop what Danny Nadri, a retired Israeli Air Force captain calls “quick actionable information.” And enterprise architecture is one important tool to provide us this situational awareness and planning capability.