Navy's ocean-powered drone helps it wage underwater war While you were out shopping Sunday for those last-minute holiday gifts, the Navy pushed ahead with its own vision of an underwater sugar plum: a fleet of “long endurance, transoceanic gliders harvesting all energy from the ocean thermocline.” And you thought Jules Verne died in 1905. Fact is, the Navy has been seeking—pretty much under the surface—a way to do underwater what the Air Force has been doing in the sky: prowl stealthily for long periods of time, and gather the kind of data that could turn the tide in war. The Navy’s goal is to send an underwater drone, which it calls a “glider,” on a roller-coaster-like path for up to five years. A fleet of them could swarm an enemy coastline, helping the Navy hunt down minefields and target enemy submarines. Unlike their airborne cousins, Navy gliders are not powered by aviation fuel. Much of the work such gliders do is oceanographic in nature, collecting data about the water’s temperature, salinity, clarity, currents and eddies. Webb Research
Facebook to Buy Drone Company Titan Aerospace for $60 Million #SaveYoVille Succeeds: Zynga Sells Game Back to Creators for Relaunch The denizens of a digital town have saved their community: Zynga is no longer shutting down the online game YoVille. Instead, the game's creators will buy it back and relaunch it as YoWorld next month. The deal comes after protests and pleas from the devoted fans of YoVille -- who create avatars that make friends, throw parties and essentially live life in a virtual town -- who were devastated when Zynga announced in January that the game would be dead by March. Zynga will instead transfer the game back to Big Viking, the creators who sold YoVille to Zynga in 2008. The switch will be complete May 12, after which the game will go offline for about 24 hours and relaunch as YoWorld. It's a happy end for the self-described "YoVillians," who launched in-game rallies and posted pleas via social media using the hashtag #SaveYoVille. "In short: #Save_YoVille status: COMPLETE!"
Boeing converts F-16 fighter jet into an unmanned drone Boeing has announced that it has retrofitted a number of retired Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets with equipment enabling them to be flown remotely without a pilot. In conjunction with the US Air Force, the company recently flew one of these unmanned jets, performing combat maneuvers and a perfect center line landing. The converted F-16, one of many that had been "mothballed" for 15 years at a site in Arizona, was controlled remotely by two US Air Force pilots located at a ground control facility. During the test flight, the plane cruised at 40,000 ft (12,200 m) and reached speeds of Mach 1.47. It then performed a series of maneuvers, including barrel rolls and a "split S" (where the pilot rolls his aircraft upside down and flies a descending half-loop, achieving level flight in the opposite direction at a lower altitude). The unmanned jet took off from a base in Florida and flew to the Gulf of Mexico, and was trailed at all times by two chase planes monitoring its course.
Rise of the machines: Google robots, Kurzweil's AI, and why self-aware machines will inevitably seek to destroy humanity (NaturalNews) In the brilliant techno-thriller fiction novel DAEMON by Daniel Suarez, a collection of clever computer scripts take over corporations, economies and entire governments. AI programs also activate and control vehicles, buildings and critical infrastructure, outmaneuvering the FBI, CIA and even the NSA at every turn. The book is a great ride that's obviously written by a very well-informed information technology expert. But what if it's not fiction? Earlier this week, AI expert Ray Kurzweil predicted that robots would "outsmart humans" by 2029. As much as Kurzweil seems somewhat loony for his ideas about "merging with the machines" and uploading your mind into a supercomputer, he's not someone who can be readily dismissed, even by his skeptics. "By 2029, computers will be able to do all the things that humans do. These robots are designed to fight our future wars. But what will power the brains of these weapon-yielding military robots?
How the Future of War (and Flying) Could Be Swarms of 3D-Printed Drones The U.S. military has a problem. It takes too long to acquire new fighting machines. In 1983, top-brass decided that they needed a new fighter jet to maintain a tactical edge in the Cold War threat environment. The resulting aircraft, the F-22 Raptor, which was specifically designed for use in a central European front, was the most technologically advanced fighter ever created. Those Soviets won't stand a chance, the brass must have thought. In war, nobody—least of all the U.S. FitzGerald, an affable Australian with a magnificent copper-colored beard—and a rising star in future war strategy circles—thinks he has a solution: it involves 3-D printing, robotic assembly lines, and drones. FitzGerald’s concept might work for Maker-in-Chief Chris Anderson, but would it help keep the U.S. ahead of the curve? A comparison between existing and future airplane manufacturing costs So basically, FitzGerald wants worker robots to build 3-D printed killer robots in the middle of the night.
Israel leads global drone exports as demand grows Drones are seen in a hangar at Israel Aerospace Industries, near Tel Aviv. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty) BEN-GURION AIRPORT, Israel — In an expansive hangar in central Israel, workers toil on one of the world’s most contentious aircraft, fitting dozens of drones with advanced sensors, cameras and lasers before they are shipped to militaries worldwide to perform highly sensitive tasks. Whereas drones are often criticized elsewhere for being morally and legally objectionable, in Israel they are a source of pride. A report produced by U.S. consulting firm Frost & Sullivan determined earlier this year that Israel is now the largest exporter of unmanned aerial systems, surmounting aerospace giants in the U.S. Since Israeli drone makers do not release precise sales figures, the Israeli numbers are estimates based on the number of UAVs sold and the overall value of contracts that were announced during the seven-year period. Israel is well-positioned for the future.
Taranis drone demonstrates stealth in latest test Combat pilots aren't going on the dole queue any time soon, but they might want to start dusting off their resumes. BAE Systems Taranis Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) has flown for the first time in a full stealth configuration, making it almost invisible to radar ... and bringing the day of the unmanned war plane that much closer to reality. According to BAE, this stealthiness was achieved by engineers removing the air-data boom, which provides air pressure, temperature, and airflow direction data for analysis, from the already stealthy fuselage. Instead, a special system was installed that sent back telemetry of all flight data without the need of a boom or external probe. Other stealth innovations for Taranis include a new radio communications system that allows its mission commander to maintain contact with the craft without revealing the UCAV to the enemy, along with a "hidden" engine configuration. Source: BAE Systems Share
LAPD goes to Israel, falls in love with drones and mass surveillance www.electronicintifada.net The HoverMast-100, an Israeli surveillance drone that the LAPD hopes to add to its arsenal. The Jewish Journal has an incredible write-up of the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) recent visit to Israel. For nine days early this month, eight of the LAPD’s highest ranking officers toured Israel on a trip organized by LAPD Deputy Chief and commander of the Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau, Michael Downing, and headed by LAPD Information Technology Bureau commander Horace Frank. While it’s unclear how much the trip cost taxpayers, Frank told the Journal that the junket was financed with “grant funding that was available for us to look at emergency technologies and best practices.” Since 2001, the US government has doled out tens of billions of dollars in federal grants to local and state police departments in the name of fighting terrorism, so it’s likely that the grant that paid for the LAPD’s Israel trip came from DHS. Reports the Journal:
Festo demonstrates BionicOpter dragonfly robot The BionicOpter robot dragonfly is capable of maneuvering in all directions, hovering in mid-air and gliding without beating its wings Image Gallery (10 images) The dragonfly is quite the show off when it comes to flying. It can hover in mid-air, maneuver in all directions, and glide without so much as a beat of its wings. After succeeding in capturing the essence of a herring gull with the SmartBird, the folks over at German pneumatic and electric automation company Festo challenged themselves with the creation of a robotic addition to the dragonfly family – the BionicOpter. View all Even the largest member of the Odonata clan (a damselfly named Megaloprepus caerulatus) is no match for Festo's dragonfly-inspired BionicOpter. From tip to tail, the robot dragonfly measures 44 cm (17.3-inches) long. By passing an electric current through the robot's four nitinol "muscles," the head can be moved from side to side, while the tail can go up and down. Source: Festo About the Author
A Drone Warrior’s Torment: Ex-Air Force Pilot Brandon Bryant on His Trauma from Remote Killing This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form. JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to look at how the United States uses drones, and their impact—this time through the eyes of one of the first U.S. drone pilots to speak out. Former Air Force pilot Brandon Bryant served as a sensor operator for the U.S. Air Force Predator program from 2007 to 2011. AMY GOODMAN: In total, Bryant says he was involved in seven missions in which his Predator fired a missile at a target, and about 13 people died in those strikes. Brandon Bryant, welcome to Democracy Now! BRANDON BRYANT: Thank you for having me. AMY GOODMAN: Place us in the room in 2007 with your first strike. BRANDON BRYANT: It was roughly around January 26, the end of January. AMY GOODMAN: Where were you? BRANDON BRYANT: I was in Nevada. AMY GOODMAN: Which base? BRANDON BRYANT: Nellis. AMY GOODMAN: What did the room look like? BRANDON BRYANT: The room? AMY GOODMAN: In what country? BRANDON BRYANT: Afghanistan. BRANDON BRYANT: Yeah, it was.
Meet the U.S's new stealthy, ship-killing missile This week has provided a couple of interesting clues as to how the U.S. Navy might deal with the proliferation of weapons meant to keep U.S. ships so far from an enemy's shore that its weapons would be useless. On Wednesday, Lockheed Martin scored a $54 million contract to prepare its prototype next-generation anti-ship missile for a pair of test launches from a ship. DARPA gave the Bethesda-based defense giant the money to move ahead with its Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) program, according to a DOD contract announcement. "LRASM is a joint DARPA/Office of Naval Research effort to develop and demonstrate standoff anti-ship strike weapon technologies," reads the announcement. In English, that means the missile is meant to allow U.S. ships and planes to hit enemy ships from outside the range of the adversary's weapons and air defenses.
US to Drone Victims: Shut Up Rafiq ur Rehman would be entitled to a lawyer if he were a murderer. But when a CIA drone kills your mother and wounds you and your two young children, you don’t warrant the same rights as criminals. Rehman was scheduled to testify before Congress on October 1. Representative Alan Grayson of Florida asked the Rehmans and their lawyer Shahzad Akbar to come to Capitol Hill. Akbar contacted the Rehmans a week after the October 24, 2012 drone strike in North Waziristan in Pakistan’s remote tribal areas which took the life of the children’s grandmother. Akbar has traveled to the United States several times. You would almost think Akbar has enemies in high places. In December, 2010, Akbar outted Jonathan Banks, CIA Station Chief in Islamabad. Britain, too, has reason to be displeased with Akbar. Akbar is not the only opponent of drones who has had a monkey wrench thrown in his travel plans. One high-profile incident involved Imran Khan. The lawyer who argued the case was Shahzad Akbar.
FrankenDrone USV goes where other remote-control watercraft can't If you want to explore places like the shallow, weedy Florida Everglades, do you use a traditional boat with a submerged propeller? Heck no, you use an air boat! You know, one of those things with the big airplane-style propeller on the back – the boat is pushed across the surface of the water, and there are no fragile underwater bits to worry about. Aerospace engineer Larry Friese has taken that same principle, and applied it to his remote-control FrankenDrone USV ... or Unmanned Surface Vehicle. View all First of all, there are already quite a variety of radio-controlled air boats commercially available. Although it’s still in the working prototype stage, the idea is that buyers will be able to select between a variety of pre-built components, then assemble them to create their own purpose-specific watercraft – hence the reference to Frankenstein in the name. Larry is currently raising productions funds for the FrankenDrone, on Kickstarter. Source: FrankenDrone via Kickstarter