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Archive for the ‘Digitization’ Category

Warrior East 21 – Tomahawk Robotics

Thursday, August 5th, 2021

Tomahawk Robotics displayed several technologies at Warrior East but the one that caught my eye is the Grip S20 Controller. It is based around the Samsung Galaxy S20 End User Device and offers controls for unmanned systems. This protective case also incorporates an integral USB hub.

Another item is the Mimic Spatial Controller which is a tactile trigger-style device many in EOD prefer to use. It is Intra Soldier Wireless compatible and provides haptic feedback of payload control.

Additionally, Tomahawk Robotics offers the MXC Family of Micro Datalinks which can be had as a stand-alone battery powered model or a more streamlined version which uses radio battery juice. With this datalink, the user can not only receive ISR feeds but also retransmit them to others in their network.

Units and agencies can procure Tomahawk Robotics products shown during Warrior East by contacting Atlantic Diving Supply.

Kestrel Ballistics Firmware Update

Thursday, July 15th, 2021

Kestrel Ballistics announced its newest firmware updates, including the Kestrel 5 Series – 1.47, the Kestrel HUD – 1.03, and the Kestrel LiNK Ballistics App – iOS/258, Android.

New HUD features include:
• Hold Over Predial

New K5 Series Features include:
• Improved Zero Offset direction and battery icon
• Ability to re-order gun profiles
• Various bug fixes for K5 and KLB app

For more info, click here.

Army Launches IVAS Integration Into Aircraft

Monday, July 12th, 2021

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Army researchers are expanding the reach of the high-tech Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) to deliver capabilities to Soldiers onboard aircraft.

IVAS integrates next-generation situational awareness tools and high-resolution simulations to enable Soldier sensing, decision making, target acquisition and target engagement. The device provides Soldiers with a single platform to fight, rehearse and train.

During the research and testing phases, the Army initially focused on bringing the technology to dismounted Soldiers. During the next step, scientists and engineers developed a capability for Soldiers to maintain situational awareness using IVAS during transport in ground combat vehicles such as the Bradley and Stryker.

Now, Army Futures Command (AFC) and Project Manager IVAS are testing the system to deliver the technology for aircrews and paratroopers in Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters.

“The Army is investing in resources to broaden the emerging capabilities of IVAS to improve effectiveness and safety of airborne Soldiers en route to their mission,” said Dr. Navin Mathur, IVAS platform integration project engineer with the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center — a component of AFC’s Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM).

The first aircraft integration operational test with paratroopers using IVAS occurred in May at Experimentation Demonstration Gateway Event (EDGE) 21 — a precursor to Project Convergence 21 — with the 82nd Airborne Division aboard two Black Hawks. The same Soldiers finished testing IVAS weeks earlier during Soldier Touch Point 4 at Fort Bragg and incorporated what they learned in preparation for EDGE 21.

They received real-time video feeds to their IVAS headsets, from a camera mounted to the bottom of helicopters, while flying to the objective site. By pushing a button on the headset, they could toggle among the screens, making the images larger or smaller. Two squad leaders in separate Black Hawks also coordinated a mid-flight change of mission plans using the system.

Research is now focused on providing video feeds from Air-Launched Effects (ALE), small unmanned aerial vehicles released in flight from helicopters, to paratroopers and aircrew wearing IVAS. Soldiers could also use the headsets to control ALE instead of carrying a tablet.

“During the development phases for these current and future ground and air platforms, we’re focused foremost on the putting together the user experience,” Mathur said. “The team is getting their feedback during exercises like EDGE and making quick upgrades. We’re continually refining designs to meet their needs.”

By Dan Lafontaine, DEVCOM C5ISR Center Public Affairs

Kägwerks Dock-Lite Galaxy S20

Monday, June 7th, 2021

During last weeks FR Roadshow near Fredericksburg, Virginia, I got a chance to check out the new Dock-Lite from Kägwerks for the Galaxy S20 which will begin fielding as PRT of the Army’s Nett Warrior system.

The biggest thing about the Dock-Lite is that it integrates intra-soldier wireless (ISW) protocol into the 3-port hub. Additionally, there’s no EUD cable, relying instead on a single USB-C interface which is engaged when docked. At the front of the case, there are three programmable buttons. The USB-C cartridge is also replaceable and the whole thing is rated for dust, shock and immersion.

Kägwerks products are available for unit and agency purchase through Federal Resources.

USSOCOM PEO-SOF Digital Applications Update

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021

Under the helm of COL Paul Weizer, USA, PEO-SOF Digital Applications serves as USSOCOM’s “One-Stop-Shop” for SOF software intensive digital applications. This new office was just announced during last year’s SOFIC and they’ve hit the ground running.

To set up this new PEO, they sought out “digital natives,” according to SOCOM’s Acquisition Executive Mr Jim Smith, who oversees all of the Command’s acquisition efforts. Bringing in the right talent, they assembled government personnel, contractors and so-called reimbursables, which are personnel who belong to outside organizations but accomplish work for SOCOM based on interdepartmental transfers of funds. That happened fairly quickly while they simultaneously looked at the Command’s acquisition portfolio to determine what exactly belonged in PEO-SDA.

They brought in programs that include Mission Command Systems, SOF Digital EcoSystem, Special Operations Mission Planning and Execution, and Tactical Assault Kit.

Mission Command Systems: Intelligence and Operations analytics systems that provide a unified SOF Common Intelligence Picture and Common Operating Picture (CIP/COP) and decision support to USSOCOM Commanders/Operators at all echelons. Delivers interoperability and integration required for synchronized SOF Global Situational Awareness. COL Weizer referred referred to this program as the, ” ring that binds them all.”

SOF Digital EcoSystem: Data Analytics Services and Tools

Special Operations Mission Planning and Execution: Mission planning & execution software tools (SOF Air, Ground & Maritime)

Tactical Assault Kit (TAK): Suite of Map-Based, Situational Awareness (SA) Software Applications across multiple platforms to include Android, iOS, Windows, Linux and HTML, that provides Tactical Capabilities for Military, Federal Government, and Civil 1st Responder operations

PEO-SDA has breathed new life into long-term programs such as mission prep which date back almost to the founding of USSOCOM. They look at the programs with a new set of eyes and move away from stovepipe approaches to capabilities to a more holistic operating environment.

With USSOCOM’s transition from looking at software as a component of a program to the glue that binds multiple capabilities together, they’ve taken charge of software development efforts on their own behalf rather than living with the software that comes on a system.

One of the challenges PEO-SDA is facing, is articulating what is “SOF Unique” about Software. This can be a sticking point of whether USSOCOM’s MFP-11 funds can be used to pay for a program. COL Weizer explained that use of and individual requirements for software can be SOF unique, but the code itself isn’t.

Even more challenging, is the lack of a current DevSecOps strategy which offers challenges when interfacing with other organizations within DoD and industry. However, it seems to be happening, if only because SOF personnel tend to get things done.

For those unfamiliar, DevSecOps is getting the developers, security and operators to work together from the outset of a software effort. Generally, it requires an integrated development environment.

The goal is to field new software every six months or faster. Although SOF are well known for their speed at fielding solutions, they have had to adapt to such an ambitious schedule. Already, they’re working with vendors to speed to integration of new SOMPE software from 18-24 months down to as little as four months. COL Weizer mentioned how the software acquisition pathway is adapting to commercial practices for development, which regularly rolls out software in support of their wares. Understandably, this faster process means that changes will become less substantial with incremental upgrades. Additionally, to mitigate configuration management issues across the enterprise which can come with frequent software updates, COL Weizer explained that his office is automating the process.

As part of instituting DevSecOps, the team has formalized a relationship with the user community, and Mr Smith tells us he is “most excited about the focus on the user,” which he went on to describe as, “a fanatical focus on the user.” Likewise, PEO SDA cuts across the entire SOF enterprise, including all of the other PEOs. Additionally, they look outside of the Command itself with customers at all of the SOF components as well as the Theater Special Operations Commands. In fact, they regularly utilize SOCCENT, co-located at MacDill AFB as a test element for new software before they release it to the field.

PEO-SDA has already made improvements on how quickly user software requirements are satisfied and it has only been a year.

U.S. Inauguration’s Military Units Used Draper-developed WebTAK for Communications, Situational Awareness

Thursday, April 15th, 2021

CAMBRIDGE, MA—April 15, 2021—At the recent presidential inauguration, public safety was top of mind as thousands of military personnel were posted throughout the U.S. Capitol and the surrounding neighborhoods. Behind the scenes, a new software program developed by Draper called WebTAK gave military units a way to communicate and respond to potential threats in real-time.

The software is based on the Android Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK), which was developed by the Department of Defense and used by Special Operations forces and warfighters. ATAK has been tested through years of real-world use in combat situations, by more than 10,000 active warfighters.

After countless successful military operations, ATAK has grown to a broader product line known as TAK, which is also known as the Tactical Awareness Kit. The software has been deployed on popular technology platforms that include Android OS (ATAK), Microsoft Windows OS (WinTAK) and soon on Apple OS (iTAK). Now, along with contributing to the development of ATAK and WinTAK, Draper has developed a web-based version called WebTAK.

At the inauguration, WebTAK was used to share situational awareness and coordinate across multiple agencies. While specifics of the deployment are unavailable for security reasons, the goal of WebTAK is to enhance decision support, situational awareness (SA) and protect military and civilian populations from threats, both intentional and incidental, including chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high yield explosives (CBRNE).

Like ATAK, WebTAK is a geospatial collaboration platform that allows teams to share information and access data to improve real-time situation awareness. WebTAK provides a wide variety of useful SA functions including mapping and navigation, range and bearing, text chat, force tracking, geospatial markup tools, image and file sharing and video playback.

“For the first time, operators can access TAK from a password protected and encrypted website on any internet-connected device, instantly,” said Dan Nissen, a software engineer on Draper’s WebTAK team.

As the company’s technical director on WebTAK, Kyle Finley says Draper is not just about creating new technologies, but also ensuring that the full potential of those technologies is realized. “WebTAK’s foundation is a set of core capabilities built using modern web software principles and practices. The recent addition of plugin support to that core opens WebTAK to a whole new world of uses,” Finley said.

WebTAK’s Software Development Kit (SDK) gives developers a framework to quickly develop those custom plugins. These plugins enable rapid integration of innovative technologies into WebTAK, allowing the application to adapt to the continually evolving user needs for situational awareness. In other words, WebTAK was built to be flexible enough so when there is a new “must have” communication device or other technology, anyone with general coding skills can quickly write code enabling the use of that technology within WebTAK.

With WebTAK running on an internet-connected device, a user enters a URL, logs into the system and instantly receives information that can inform situational awareness of an event. The software offers protections through a secure socket layer and end-to-end encryption. As a device-agnostic application, WebTAK is designed to run equally well across various mobile or desktop devices.

“Maintaining continuous situational awareness is the foundation for maintaining security. With WebTAK, warfighters, first responders and public safety officials can customize their operating environment, depending on their role or mission, and benefit from anywhere, anytime secure connectivity through the internet,” explained Brad Vautour, sound designer and senior enterprise software engineer at Draper.

The work is sponsored by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). DTRA is funding development of ATAK, WinTAK, and WebTAK decision support tools, along with supporting leading edge technologies.

Machine Learning Shows Potential to Enhance Quantum Information Transfer

Friday, March 26th, 2021

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Army-funded researchers demonstrated a machine learning approach that corrects quantum information in systems composed of photons, improving the outlook for deploying quantum sensing and quantum communications technologies on the battlefield.

When photons are used as the carriers of quantum information to transmit data, that information is often distorted due to environment fluctuations destroying the fragile quantum states necessary to preserve it.

Researchers from Louisiana State University exploited a type of machine learning to correct for information distortion in quantum systems composed of photons. Published in Advanced Quantum Technologies, the team demonstrated that machine learning techniques using the self-learning and self-evolving features of artificial neural networks can help correct distorted information. This results outperformed traditional protocols that rely on conventional adaptive optics.

“We are still in the fairly early stages of understanding the potential for machine learning techniques to play a role in quantum information science,” said Dr. Sara Gamble, program manager at the Army Research Office, an element of U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, known as DEVCOM, Army Research Laboratory. “The team’s result is an exciting step forward in developing this understanding, and it has the potential to ultimately enhance the Army’s sensing and communication capabilities on the battlefield.”

For this research, the team used a type of neural network to correct for distorted spatial modes of light at the single-photon level.

“The random phase distortion is one of the biggest challenges in using spatial modes of light in a wide variety of quantum technologies, such as quantum communication, quantum cryptography, and quantum sensing,” said Narayan Bhusal, doctoral candidate at LSU. “Our method is remarkably effective and time-efficient compared to conventional techniques. This is an exciting development for the future of free-space quantum technologies.”

According to the research team, this smart quantum technology demonstrates the possibility of encoding of multiple bits of information in a single photon in realistic communication protocols affected by atmospheric turbulence.

“Our technique has enormous implications for optical communication and quantum cryptography,” said Omar Magaña?Loaiza, assistant professor of physics at LSU. “We are now exploring paths to implement our machine learning scheme in the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative to make it smart, more secure, and quantum.”

Visit the laboratory’s Media Center to discover more Army science and technology stories.

By US Army DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory Public Affairs

GNARBOX 2.0 Drone Edition and Edge Compute Platform

Thursday, March 25th, 2021

This week GNARBOX announced two new products, GNARBOX 2.0 Drone Edition and Edge Compute Platform. For those of you unfamiliar, GNARBOX hit the imagery storage and exploitation scene a few years ago with a crowdfunded device which allows both storage and digital manipulation of image files outside of a computing environment like a laptop or handheld device. Rather, the heavy lifting is accomplished on the GNARBOX via wireless control from apps on a handheld.

Although intended for photographers, the tech was quickly picked up by others who work with various forms of imagery data sets.

The company claims the GNARBOX features “Mil-Spec” environmental hardness, so take it with a grain of salt until we verify what that actually means. It does however, include a 1TB NVMe SSD with two USB-C ports, an SD card slot, and a Micro HDMI port. The USB-C ports have a transfer rate of 390 MB/s, while the SD card has a transfer rate of 75 MB/s.

DNG images, H.264, H.265, and ProRes formats are supported by the GNARBOX 2.0 Drone Edition and can be backed up to Dropbox.

Additionally, it uses xxHash64 Checksum with byte-for-byte verification checks for corruption in the field automatically with progress displayed on the GNARBOX screen.

Essentially, Drone Edition is just software. It still resides on the GNARBOX. For the drone operator, it offers automated file organization using tagged geo-location and flight data to find specific image data. It also incorporates Pix4D’s cloud software to make workflows simpler and transfer data seamless.

Data sets may utilize a iOS hotspot to deliver from the GNARBOX to your cloud for additional 2D and 3D processing.

“While developing a complete solution for Photo and Video workflow, we built our stack on a containerized architecture with future markets in mind. The capabilities of a computer like ours are driven by software, and expanding offerings to new applications has been the vision since the beginning. It doesn’t matter if the data being collected is off a photographer’s camera, a powerline inspector’s drone, or an autonomous vehicle at an industrial site — it’s all data in need of storage, processing, and upload from the edge. We believe our proven track record in delivering rugged computing ecosystems will help us bring significant value to these markets.”
-Tim Feess

Interestingly, access to the software is via annual subscription and GNARBOX is offering a very optimistic 10-year plan.

It gets better (or worse, depending upon your point of view) as they also launched their Edge Compute Platform GNARBOX which allows drone operators to deploy software right in the platform, at the edge, rather than at a central server. This will make it more difficult to conduct some forms of countermeasures against threat systems.