robotics

A second MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter flew for the first time at Naval Base Ventura County, Pt. Mugu, Calif., on Feb. 12. Current flight tests are focused on validating the flight capabilities of the system before ship-based flights take place this summer. Northrop Grumman photo by Alan Radecki

The military is drowning in video. Figuring out what’s worth watching can literally be a matter of life and death. The standard technique today is to sit young servicemembers down at screens to stare at live feeds or archived video — from drones, from satellites, from static cameras — until their eyes glaze over. But that’s… Keep reading →

A US Navy attack submarine enters Apra Harbor in Guam.

THE FUTURE: Imagine you’re a Chinese high commander, taking stock at the outbreak of the next great war. All your aides and computer displays tell you the same thing: For hundreds of miles out into the Western Pacific, the sea and sky are yours. They are covered by the overlapping threat zones of your long-range land-based missiles, your… Keep reading →

Courtesy Northrop Grumman

Fire Scout makes it look easy to take off from a destroyer. It’s not. In video released today (above), the MQ-8C helicopter takes off from the destroyer Jason Dunham with its eyes closed — or rather with its cockpit windows painted over, because there’s nobody inside. Though derived from the widespread Bell 407, the Northrop… Keep reading →

DARPA KQ-X Global Hawk refueling

PENTAGON: Ellen Pawlikowski helps decide what weapons the Air Force buys and manages the buying process, so when the lieutenant general says she likes autonomy and 3-D printing as the most promising capabilities for her service to develop as part of the new offset strategy, it’s worth listening. “This is Ellen Pawlikowski speaking,” she says in… Keep reading →

140224-M-EV637-410

[UPDDATED with Hagel memo & expert comment] REAGAN LIBRARY: After months of build-up, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel formally launched the military’s quest for a combination of new technologies to maintain America’s military supremacy over the next 20 years in the face of Russian and Chinese challenges. In a speech before the second Reagan National Defense Forum here, Hagel divulged… Keep reading →

A Navy patrol boat converted to operate unmanned as part of an Office of Naval Research experiment in autonomous "swarms."

The Navy’s research arm is justifiably proud of its recent experiment with “swarming” drone boats, whose results (with video) were officially released today. But the very thing that’s most impressive about the swarmboats — their ability to act autonomously with minimal human guidance — raises crucial questions about when we can trust a robot to pull… Keep reading →

The first MQ-4C Triton drone to arrive at Patuxent River Naval Air Station.

PATUXENT RIVER NAVAL AIR STATION: The future of Navy long-range reconnaissance, the recently arrived MQ-4C Triton drone, sprawls across its hangar here, with a wingspan 13 feet wider than a Boeing 737 but a body that’s 80 percent lighter. Designed for 24-hour-plus patrols at 50,000 feet, Triton still can’t do the job by itself, say both the program manager and… Keep reading →

DARPA body suit Warrior Web

WASHINGTON: Advocates of military exoskeletons, from the former chief of Special Operations Command on down, like to invoke Iron Man, Marvel’s iconic armored superhero. But there are other models for more modest and more feasible, yet still militarily valuable uses of exosuit technology. So don’t just think of Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man. Think of Sigourney… Keep reading →

Lockheed Martin's UCLASS concept.

It’s crunch time for UCLASS. On September 10th — after multiple delays — the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer and his Defense Acquisition Board will sit in judgment on the proposed combat drone. The question: how best to bring the robot revolution to the deck of the 90-year-old aircraft carrier. The “Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and… Keep reading →

The U.S. Navy's unmanned X-47B conducts flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). The aircraft completed a series of tests demonstrating its ability to operate safely and seamlessly with manned aircraft. Operating alongside an F/A-18, the X-47B demonstrated two successful launch and recovery sequences. The Theodore Roosevelt is currently underway preparing for future deployments. Photo by Alan Radecki.

[UPDATED: Key test goal met] Robots may be the future of war, but for now they’re going to have to share the battlefield with humans and human-operated vehicles. That’s especially tricky in the tight confines of a Navy carrier’s flight deck, where one miscalculation could drive a drone into a manned aircraft, the bridge island, a… Keep reading →

Page 1 of 3123