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Archive for the ‘Disruptive Tech’ Category

Mawashi – UPRISE Tactical Exoskeleton

Monday, July 24th, 2017

While the UPRISE™ Tactical Exoskeleton has popped up in various future soldier system program demonstrations, it was officially unveiled to the market at an offsite during SOFIC. I got a good look at it not long after, while attending CANSEC in Ottawa., Canada, in late May.

There are a whole slew of companies developing wearable robotics, or as they are more popularly known, exoskeletons. Mawashi says that Exoskeletons are a disruptive technology because they are impacting multiple industries simultaneously. Some of the systems have been created specifically for defense use. Of these, the vast majority are powered, which is crucial to the ability to lift heavy weights, such as a Power Loader taking the place of a forklift. However, that reliance on power can also be a weakness, for some applications. For example, no one wants to run out of power, midway through a mission. What makes Canadian firm Mawashi’s solution different is that it is human powered. Designed to reduce skeletal muscular injuries, UPRISE™ is an acronym for Ultralight Passive Ruggedized Integrated Soldier Exoskeleton.

Starting load carriage studies in 2005, Mawashi’s engineers investigated how the human body bears weight, in particular they looked at the severely overweight (300-700 lbs), especially Sumo wrestlers, who remain active despite their girth. Interestingly, the name Mawashi comes from the loincloth worn by the Sumo.

What Alain Bujold, President and Chief Technology Officer of Mawashi, and his team found, is that the body can bear an amazing amount of its own weight because of how it is distributed. They surmised that a load is a load; a pound, a pound, whether it’s fat or Mission Equipment.

UPRISE™ mimics the human form, with a flexible spine and sliding belt which combine to offer a great deal of freedom of movement. The exoskeleton is padded and fit is fine tuned via Boa dial at several locations on the legs.

The Harness also integrates with body armor as well as other loads such as packs. Additionally, they’ve demonstrated that gear normally worn on the War Belt, such as holsters, can be attached to the exoskeleton. No matter what is attached to the system, the entire weight of the exoskeleton is borne by a plate which is inserted like an insole into the wearer’s footwear. In fact, UPRISE™ transfers 50-80% of the wearer’s load right to the ground. Mawashi intends it for use on three to seven day missions.

Development continues. So far, the work has concentrated on the major load bearing structures of back and lower extremities, Mawashi plans to increase coverage. While UPRISE™ won’t make you run faster, and won’t give you super human strength, it will make you less fatigued, and it will help protect your lower joints.

They recently produced this video entitled, “WE ARE MAWASHI: The Rise of The Exoskeleton” which showcases the technology.


WE ARE MAWASHI: The Rise of the Exoskeleton from Mawashi Science & Technology on Vimeo.

www.mawashi.net

OpenWERX – AirSpew: Modular Information Dissemination System

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

OpenWERX (sponsored by SOFWerx) provides the general public with quarterly opportunities to collaborate on innovative approaches relevant to SOCOM and other federal government agencies.

Team Registration deadline: 30 June

Prizes:
First place: $10,000
Second place: $5,000
Third place: $3,000

To register, visit www.sofwerx.org/openwerx-airspew

Total Game Changer – USSOCOM & USMC Take First Steps Toward Adopting a .338NM Lightweight Medium Machine Gun

Monday, May 15th, 2017

In a move that will turn the term “Overmatch” on its ear, the United States Special Operations Command, in conjunction with the United States Marine Corps has issued a sources sought notice for 5,000 Lightweight Medium Machine Guns in .338 Norma Magnum. The Russian PKM is a primary concern for dismounted infantry and the LWMMG doubles the 1000m effective range of the PKM.

Specifically, they are seeking producers who can provide:
-complete machinegun system to include weapon, suppressed barrel, and tripod
-any tools needed to conduct basic maintenance

In short, the capability will provide a machine gun which is lighter than the current 7.62mm M240, yet offers nearly the reach of the .50 M2. However, unlike the M2, this new capability will offer pinpoint accuracy at those ranges. What’s more, with the introduction of polymer cased ammo, the weight of ammunition comes much closer to 7.62 than .50.

LWMMG specifics: The LWMMG should fire the belted .338NM round of ammunition with a polymer case. The LWMMG should weigh less than 24 pounds unloaded with a barrel length of 24in. The LWMMG should have a rate of fire of between 500-600 rounds per minute. Weapon shall be compatible with current rail mounted aiming systems with the ability to incorporate more advanced fire control technology. The system should include both a suppressed barrel and an unsuppressed barrel that can be rapidly changed. The LWMMG should include a tripod that is lightweight and provides the stability and accuracy required to engage targets at extreme ranges. The LWMMG should be able to mount in current machinegun mounts designed for the M240B/C. The weapon should have sufficient accuracy to engage area targets and vehicles at 2,000m.

At the recent NDIA Armaments Symposium, USASOC DCS G8, COL Samuel Ashley briefed this capability. The capability has been sufficiently demonstrated to move to procurement. However, COL Ashley related that this new capability will require new ootics amd target acquisition solutions.

To be sure, adopting a new cartridge is an expensive endeavor, but in this case, the new capability more than outweighs the cost. Additionally, SOCOM plans to introduce the caliber to its upcoming multi-caliber Advanced Sniper Rifle, along with a legacy 7.62 NATO and .300NM round.

One interesting point in the RFI is the mention of two types of barrels. One is a standard barrel and the other is suppressed. Notice they didn’t ask for a suppressor, but rather a suppressed barrel. As GD has demonstrated the weapon in use with a detachable suppressor in the past, this indicates they must have developed an integrally suppressed barrel. The amount of Interal Reasearch and Development Dollars GD has put into this weapon is impressive.

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This 2016 chart from a Jim Schatz briefing to industry depicts the weights of the M240, LWMMG and M2. In addition to weapon upgrades, Polycase technology is going to further lighten that load, or better yet, increase the amount of ammunition a machine gunner can carry.

We recently mentioned General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems’, Commercial Off The Shelf solution which this requirement is based on and is available right now, but I would not be surprised to see other vendors offer up solutions as well. I’ll keep my eyes peeled during this week’s SOFIC to see what turns up.

Some readers will get wrapped around the axel over the 5,000 number of systems in the RFI; but don’t. It’s a nice round number the government is using to measure industry’s capacity to produce the weapon. By no means is it a basis of issue plan based number.

In my opinion, adoption of this capability is the single greatest small arms capability enhancement to the US military in the last century. It offers the ability to deliver accurate sustained fire at ranges out to 2000m in a package which can be employed by one operator. MARSOC has been following the weapon’s development, but good on the Marine Corps writ large in seeing the value of this proposition. Hopefully, the US Army, a service very concerned about threat overmatch, will move this capability from a Future to Near-Term priority. However, based on recent directed requirement from the 4-Star level, I would not be surprised to see this happen as SOCOM’s program reaches maturity. This will not only enhance the Army’s capabilities but also help control ammunition costs.

For those interested in full details, visit www.fbo.gov.

AeroVironment, Developer of the Nano Hummingbird, Unveils Snipe, A New, Stealthy Nano Quadrotor UAS

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

-Launched from the palm of a hand, Snipe™ is worn on operators’ clothing so it can spring into action immediately – first 20 systems delivered in April
-Difficult to detect, Snipe provides close-range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR)
-Simple to use and requires no assembly; operates in challenging and rugged environmental conditions
-Builds on breakthrough robotic Nano Hummingbird developed by AeroVironment for DARPA


DALLAS, at AUVSI XPONENTIAL, May 9, 2017 – AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for both military and commercial applications, today officially unveiled the new Snipe Nano Quad, a miniature (“Class 0”) and field-rugged unmanned aircraft system designed to support close-range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The first U.S. government customer delivery of 20 Snipe systems took place in April.

“Snipe’s tiny size belies its impressive capabilities,” said Kirk Flittie, AeroVironment vice president and general manager of its Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment. “It is quick, quiet, fast, durable and packed with advanced features critical to helping our customers succeed in close-range missions.”

“Snipe enables operators to spring into action quickly,” Flittie said. “No assembly is required for the five-ounce (140-gram) nano-UAS, which is designed to be worn by its operator so it can be deployed in less than a minute.”

Equipped with electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR), low-light-capable and long-wave infrared (LWIR) sensors in an integrated tilt mechanism, Snipe can relay high-resolution images and record real-time video both day and night. In addition, Snipe’s integrated UHF radio provides for excellent non-line-of-sight operation. The software-defined radio (SDR) allows Snipe to be sold commercially.

With its quiet electric motors, flight speeds exceeding 20 mph and more than one-kilometer range, Snipe is difficult to detect in operating environments with even minimal ambient noise. Its rechargeable batteries power approximately 15 minutes of flight time. Despite its small size, the durable nano-UAS is capable of operating under challenging environmental conditions – including winds of 15+ mph with gusts up to 20 mph

“While Snipe’s stealthiness makes it ideally suited for military applications, it’s an invaluable asset for anyone needing a ‘Class 0’ UAS to support their missions,” Flittie said.

Snipe is controlled using an intuitive app on a standard, ruggedized (MIL-STD 810) touch screen controller with intuitive user interface and automated operation for ease of use. Other critical functions include Snipe’s ability to return to its operator automatically if it loses its radio link.

Snipe benefits from advances in nano unmanned technology achieved by the company in its development of the internationally recognized Nano Hummingbird. “The Nano Hummingbird, the world’s first unmanned aircraft capable of propulsion and control using two flapping wings, is an example of how our breakthrough innovation has spawned a valuable new capability in Snipe that now will help our customers proceed with certainty,” added Flittie.

AeroVironment’s Snipe Nano Quadrotor will be available to order Fall 2017. Operator training requires four hours only.

www.avinc.com

USSOCOM Seeks Advanced Technologies

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

USSOCOM Science and Technology Directorate’s (SOF AT&L-ST) has issued addendum J of their Broad Agency Announcement for advanced technologies. The directorate’s vision is to Discover, Enable, and Transition technologies to provide an asymmetric advantage for Special Operations Forces (SOF). SOF AT&L-ST has identified specific technology Areas of Interest to accelerate the delivery of innovative capabilities to the SOF warfighter.

Fires/Scalable Effects Weapons (SEW):
USSOCOM seeks to study, design, develop, and demonstrate advanced technologies associated with the application of fire from non-lethal through lethal. These technologies include, but are not limited to, weapons, munitions, and fire control, with the major development goals being lighter weight, lower cost of ownership throughout the entire lifecycle of the product, and increased effectiveness. Highly desired are:

Improved Effectiveness of Fragmentation Weapons. Alternatives to existing fragmentation weapons, or weapons where the casing is shattered upon detonation, and identifying munitions with greater effectiveness while applying the FBI standard for bullets (10-12 in penetration of tissue simulant) in the design of fragmentation munitions. The technology and approaches should assess what industries such as aerospace, automobile manufacturing and other non-ordnance suppliers have available or in development that applies to the needs. Specifically desired are:

Analysis of alternatives on potential of fragmentation weapons.

Enhanced 40mm x 46xx fragmentation grenade. USSOCOM is interested in an enhanced 40mm x 46mm cartridge propellant system that optimizes the acceleration curve enabling heavier payloads at current ranges or current payloads a longer range while remaining within current pressure and recoil limits. Peak chamber pressure is approximately 2320-3000 psi depending on barrel material and thickness. Recoil safety limit is 45 ft-lbs to 50 ft-lbs. USSOCOM is interested in increasing the lethal area of a 40mm x 46mm fragmentation projectile with enhanced energetics and optimize controlled fragmentation. USSOCOM defines lethal area as having a minimum of 2 fragments per square meter and 90% of those fragments penetrating 12 inches of 10% tissue simulant.

Payload Development. Technologies that can be employed as a payload to stop/disable maritime vessels and that can be delivered from an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV). The payload can deliver a non-reversible effect, however, the effect should not betray hostile intent. Technologies/payloads that can be transported in a UUV compartment and can be exposed to a harsh, marine environment. Technologies/payloads should stop a vessel less than 50 meters long.

Human Performance
USSOCOM seeks to conduct research, design, development and demonstration of capabilities that enhance physiological, physical, psychological, and intellectual performance, and improve resistance to disease, stress, or injury caused by the demands of sustained operations in extreme environments. Highly desired are:

Performance Enhancements. Innovative solutions that will optimize human performance, reduce recovery time, and increase peak performance sustainability, including increased endurance, strength, energy, agility, enhanced senses, provide restorative effects of sleep, and enhance tolerance to environmental extremes. The technologies can be demonstrated through studies that provide proof of concepts or through solutions demonstrated in humans that quantify operational performance improvements. Technologies should not consist of new software applications, wearables, and additional studies on existing nutraceuticals that have been previously researched in depth. SOF AT&L-ST is specifically interested in:

Genomics, epigenetics, proteomics, and synthetic biology

Nutraceuticals and/or pharmaceuticals

Enhancing metabolic efficiency

Methods of improving oxygen delivery to muscles

Reducing the potential for musculoskeletal injury

Increasing tolerance to pain

Cognitive Enhancement

Sleep Restoration

Submissions should consider methods of demonstrating safety and efficacy, and a regulatory approval strategy if required. Proposed solutions do not have to be FDA cleared as a prerequisite, but nutraceuticals and/or pharmaceuticals must be US-sourced. Submitters should have access or partners with access to lab facilities.

Protection
USSOCOM seeks to conduct research, development and demonstration of advanced technologies associated with protecting the future dismounted SOF Operator. These technologies include, but are not limited to, ballistic body armor, helmets, and eye protection, with the major development goals being lighter weight and increased protection. SOF AT&L-ST is specifically interested in chemistry and microstructure improvements for advanced armor materials, including the following:

Mechanical property enhancements in existing armor ceramics through microstructure modifications

Development of new ceramic armor materials

Continued optimization of fiber-based armor materials, to include aramids, ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene, and their associated resin systems

Investigations into additive manufacturing of armor materials (metals, polymers, and ceramics)

Thin, lightweight and low-cost transparent armor (polymer, glass and ceramic based solutions)

While the main focus of the research should be development of advanced armor materials, other considerations include projectiles of interest (7.62 x 39 mm MSC at 2400-2450 ft/s, 7.62 x 39 mm API BZ at 2400-2450 ft/s, 7.62 x 54R mm API B32 at 2850-2900 ft/s, and 7.62 x 51 mm AP M993 at 3050-3100 ft/s), a final system thickness of less than 1.0 inch, backface signature performance of less than 44.0 millimeters at the velocities listed above, and an ultimate goal of areal density reduction (with similar or improved ballistic performance).

Optical Electronics
USSOCOM seeks to conduct research, design, develop, and demonstrate advanced technologies associated with target engagement, intelligence, surveillance & reconnaissance, and neutralization of opposing force capabilities. These technologies include, but are not limited to, optics, lasers, sensors, and radar, with the major development goals being transition to the field within 5 years, backwards compatible with existing infrastructure, and do not require a significant cost investment to produce and sustain. SOF AT&L-ST is specifically interested in:

Observer to Point of Interest: Ground-to-Ground/Air-to-Ground

Man Portable Equipment and Turrets / Pods to Tower-Test

Characterization Abilities: Ability to identify and detect persons or objects of interest, identification of and thru material layers

Technologies that can be employed to effect long range enemy identification, to include laser vibrometry. Specific distances have yet to be determined, but should work outside the signature ranges of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms to ensure surreptitious collection

Interested parties must submit whitepapers for this BAA Addendum which closes on June 5, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. EDT. USSOCOM may select some candidates which will then be funded up to $3m and given up to three years of development.

For full details, visit www.fbo.gov.

Ft Bragg Warfighter Expo – Battelle DroneDefender

Friday, March 17th, 2017

The proliferation of inexpensive, commercial drones has led to their increased use on the battlefield, with friends and foes alike employing them for both ISR and kinetic weapon use. Consequently, there has to be a Counter to Unmanned Aerial Systems. Battelle has introduced their cUAS in the form of the DronedDfender.

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Quite simply, the DroneDefender’s signal disrupts the remote control link of the UAS. This video gives you an idea of how it works.

The DroneDefender is a similar form factor as the M16 which makes it simple to aim at a target and blends in better on the battlefield with standard weapons.

www.battelle.org/government-offerings/national-security/aerospace-systems/counter-UAS-technologies

Advanced Expeditionary Warfighting Experiment 2017

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Recently, we shared information about several technologies being examined by the US and British Armies during the Advanced Expeditionary Warfighting Experiment at Fort Benning, Georgia. MG McMaster narrates this video by the US Army’s Maneuver Battle Lab, discussing this year’s AEWA, TRADOC’s live, prototype experimentation campaign. AEWE addresses live, prototype experimentation requirements with a primary focus on the Soldier and Small Unit, examining concepts and capabilities for the current and future force across all warfighting functions.

DOD Funds New Tissue Biofabrication Manufacturing Consortium

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department will fund an 87-member coalition to develop next-generation manufacturing techniques for repairing and replacing cells, tissues and organs for wounded service members, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics announced Wednesday at the White House.

Frank Kendall introduced the winning consortium, which is led by the nonprofit Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI), headquartered in Manchester, New Hampshire. Members of the consortium — from industry, academic and government backgrounds — will serve as part of the new Advanced Tissue Biofabrication Manufacturing Innovation Institute, or ATB-MII.

The institute is the 12th manufacturing hub awarded by the Obama administration, seven of them so far led by DOD.

MANUFACTURING AND NATIONAL SECURITY


Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory say the precision and 3D structures made possible through bioprinting are enabling them to more effectively reproduce human physiology outside of the body, which will eventually lead to a better representation of each tissue system that makes up the human body. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Department of Energy)

“Manufacturing is deeply important to national security,” Kendall said, noting that DOD signed a technology-investment agreement Monday with ARMI to establish the institute.

Participating in the selection process were more than 20 technical experts, representing four federal government departments or agencies. Among the DOD representatives were members of five military services and agencies.

“This agreement, awarded by the Army Contracting Command, provides for seven years of operation with financial support supplied by a combination of $80 million in DOD funds and more than $214 million in non-federal cost sharing,” Kendall said.

“This financial support offers ample evidence that industry is fully behind this initiative. This is truly a team effort,” the undersecretary said.

PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP

The Advanced Tissue Biofabrication team — organized by ARMI and led by engineer, inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen — consists of 47 companies, 26 academic institutions and 14 government and nonprofit organizations, all supporting the industry-driven nonprofit public-private partnership, Kendall said.

“Members of the partnership include small-through-large businesses, DOD research and development laboratories, public and private universities, research institutions, federal and state government entities and local governments — who are all collaborating to meet future defense and commercial requirements,” he explained.

ARMI will bring current and future members together in a collaborative space in Manchester, Kendall said, and “key state partners in the ATB-MII have pledged substantial support.”

State partners include New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, California, Colorado, Washington, Arizona, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland.

“I don’t think you want to be left out of this activity,” Kendall said.

REGENERATIVE MEDICINE

The ATB is an investment in manufacturing and testing technologies to advance the state of the art in regenerative medicine, the undersecretary said.

“The ‘why’ for this institute is one that is extremely important to all of us and personal to many of us in the Defense Department — restoring form, function and appearance for our wounded warfighters and changing what is possible for the many Americans who’ve spent far too long on the organ-transplant waiting list,” he added.

The institute encompasses state-of-the-art tissue manufacturing, cell and biomaterial processing, 3-D bioprinting, automation and nondestructive testing technologies, Kendall said.

“The biggest challenge to widespread availability for emerging manufacturing tissue products is in common technologies, processes and standards to advance manufacturing, product testing, quality control, quality assurance and product preservation,” the undersecretary said.

CELLS, TISSUES, ORGANS


Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory say the precision and 3D structures made possible through bioprinting are enabling them to more effectively reproduce human physiology outside of the body, which will eventually lead to a better representation of each tissue system that makes up the human body. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Department of Energy)

It’s necessary, Kendall said, to create and sustain an industrial commons — a foundation of knowledge and capabilities — “for the ATB-MII to advance the standardization of tissue products and processes for widespread use across industries in areas such as cell therapies, engineered replacement tissue and biopharmaceutical products.”

Scaling up manufacturing processes to produce cells, tissues and organs at scale “will catalyze disparate supply-chain elements and enable novel products for the Defense Department and the larger health-care sectors,” he added.

The challenge is amplified in medicine, Kendall said, because of the complexities of scaling and, especially, the unique nature of tissue engineering.

FROM SCIENCE TO INDUSTRY

Kamen’s inventions include the Segway human transporter, the first drug-infusion pump, portable dialysis machines, a water purifier, an all-terrain electric wheelchair and — working with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — the DEKA-Luke prosthetic arm.

At the White House, Kamen described the development of the arm technology, which is now approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as “making arms for some of these young [military] heroes who desperately need and deserve something more than a stick with a hook on it.”

Referring to the science infrastructure scientists require in order to turn their research into useful products, Kamen said, “We can supply essentially what the printing press did to get all these ideas to the world that needs them. We need to essentially make the printing press for the world of regenerative medicine.”

And that’s not just an analogy, Kamen added, “It’s a real printing press — we’ll be printing 3-D organs.” Kidneys, he said, may be one of the first organs to be produced.

The inventor said he and his team of engineers will give the scientists the tools they need to turn what is now an incredibly exciting science into an industry “that will meet the needs, first of your soldiers who need skin for burns and organs because of what they lost, but then the rest of the country, and the rest of the world will benefit.”

(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)