Category Archives: Military

DARPA’s itty-bitty super-cheap eavesdropper

Hidden cameras and other spy gadgets are all very well and good, but the suckers can get expensive if you’re buying them in quantities that require a forklift to move, like the CIA and other intelligence organizations do.  Hence why DARPA funded an inventor to whip up $50 mini-computers that can be hidden almost anywhere and eavesdrop on people – they’re so inexpensive that agencies can afford to loose some.

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The Scorp miniature recon robot

CNET’s got an article on a cool little RC bot, the Scorp, designed to check out dangerous areas or suspicious objects without putting a live human in danger.  It’s small, lightweight, throwable, and is (relatively) cheap.  Click the link to see pics and read more about it.

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Argus One: a stealthy vermiform spy drone blimp

… a what, now?

No, seriously.  It’s an unmanned blimp, shaped like a worm or a snake, with a little gondola full of sensors for spying on stuff.  And it’s apparently got a small radar footprint.

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Fighting fire with an electric wand

Heeee…  Sorry.  Geeking out.  I only started keeping close track of DARPA’s projects a few months ago, and they keep announcing stuff that is both new to me and extremely cool.

Anyway.  A post on DARPA’s press release site yesterday afternoon described their Instant Fire Suppression project.  Imagine, if you will, that you’re faced with a fire.  You don’t have a fire extinguisher, or a bucket of water; all you’ve got is a magic wand.  Wave the wand over the fire once, and it flickers and goes down.  Wave it twice, and the fire gutters, barely glowing.  Wave it three times, and the fire is completely out.  Now watch the video.  That’s damn near what they’re doing.

The IFS project was supposed to look at ways to disrupt the physical structure and fluid dynamics of flames, rather than disrupting the chemical reactions that keep it going.  That “magic wand” is basically a specially tinkered electrode – scale it up (which they’ve found difficult, but it’s early days yet, right?) and we might see a brand new form of fire extinguisher on the market someday.

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Scaling up: a six-engine, tilt-rotor VTOL version of the Boeing 737

I posted another article on a six-engine drone earlier, but I never thought that I’d see an idea for a six-engine VTOL airliner.  WTF?

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Filed under Energy/Mining/Resources, Military, Technology

Portable body scanner for detecting concealed weapons

A cooperative R&D effort by NYPD and US DoD has produced a portable infrared body-scanner – like the ones the TSA is using, only mounted on a vehicle.  This would be a superb way of figuring out whether a bad guy is armed before getting into knife range to cuff him.  It’s currently facing range issues (it only works at up to a meter away from the person being scanned) but they’re hoping to increase the range to 25 meters eventually.

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US military may use DNA barcodes to detect counterfeit parts

The military’s been dealing with counterfeit parts making their way into equipment for a couple of years now.  The problem’s gotten big enough that Congress has told the Pentagon to crack down – hard – and the Pentagon is all in favor of this.  Which brings us to the story: using plant DNA as a marker for parts that are approved for use, so that you can weed out the counterfeits.  While I’m sure that counterfeiters will figure out a way to get around this eventually, this should hold them at bay for a couple of years.

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