When I served in the U.S. Army back in the waning days of the Cold War, about the only battery-operated equipment I needed to worry about taking into the field was the standard-issue L-shaped flashlight, the one with the red lens we needed to swap in to reduce the risk of (a) night blindness and (b) giving away our position to the bad guys.
Where many of the devices from Taser International are a little like dueling pistols from the 18th century--basically, you get one shot to hit a target standing in front of you--the new Shockwave from Taser is more like a Claymore mine.
Unveiled Monday at the annual Taser Tactical Conference in Chicago, the Shockwave is described as an "area denial system," spraying its six projectiles all at once over a 22-degree arc. In addition, users can stack the Shockwave units vertically or side by side ("like Legos," the company says) to cover a larger area or "… Read more
This could be almost as much fun as a blowgun and curare-laden darts. Except, of course, that the kinder, gentler weaponry from Taser International is intended to have nonlethal results.
Up to now, Taser stun guns have been short-range gadgets that deliver their jolt of electricity through wires linking the gun and the projectile. (Think Ben Stiller and Dustin Hoffman getting zapped in Meet the Fockers.) On Monday, the company plans to introduce its first-ever wireless device in Chicago at the Taser Tactical Conference for members of law enforcement and military organizations,
The White House is getting ready to trade in its aging "Marine One" helicopter for a new model, though don't go looking for President Bush to take it for a spin.
The first test aircraft built for the VH-71 Presidential Helicopters Program made its maiden flight Tuesday--in British airspace--in a flight that lasted about 40 minutes, at speeds up to 135 knots.
Why the overseas locale? The helicopter isn't quite a cutting-edge design, despite the billing by its manufacturers as "the world's most technologically advanced helicopter." Instead, it's based on AgustaWestland's … Read more
The military-industrial complex is moving double-time to get tough new vehicles to troops in Iraq.
The MRAP (Mine Resistant Armored Protection) vehicles are on a mission to provide a better shield against roadside bombs. They achieve that protection in part through a V-shaped undercarriage that rides high off the ground. In terms of overall strength, they fall somewhere between up-armored Humvees (which were never intended to provide much in the way of armor) and the thicker-skinned M2 Bradley fighting vehicle.
While they can't defend against all types of explosives, they have proven effective against shaped charges designed to pierce … Read more
Unmanned aerial vehicles, "drones" or "UAVs" for short, are getting to be pretty impressive affairs. Target-tracking software allows one drone to fly by its own wits, even above 15,000 feet. Overseen by humans, these planes can chase down a moving vehicle, send reports to a human operator by cell phone, collect photo images and video, and even relay information via VoIP.
Even with the new autonomous capabilities in the ScanEagle, surveillance efforts will often dictate that a human maintain a greater degree of oversight. One major objective of these flyers is to reduce the risk … Read more
As automakers continue to make progress in the field of hydrogen fuel cells here on Earth, a California company is doing the same thing aloft. AeroVironment, a manufacturer of unmanned planes, announced last week that it had flown its Puma aircraft for nearly five hours using an onboard fuel cell battery hybrid energy storage system.
The Puma, which has a wingspan of 8.5 feet and weighs 12.5 pounds, was powered by its standard rechargeable-battery-powered propulsion system (capable of keeping the craft airborne for 2.5 hours), assisted by an onboard fuel-cell-powered battery. The unmanned aircraft incorporates its own … Read more
Just how desperate is that housewife next door? If those down-looking satellites just don't do it for you any more, here's another way to keep an eye on your neighbor.
The Vortex Regenerative Air Movement Mobile Robot Platform (VRAMMRP) uses a patented "tornado in a cup" sucking technology to stick to walls and ceilings, then uses six wheels to position itself on the window ledge or other strategic location. Remote controlled by joy stick, the unit can send video and audio via secure Bluetooth. This equipment should be included in any self-respecting paparazzi's toolkit.
Battle stations! The U.S. Navy has upped the stakes in the battle of the training simulators with the commissioning of its 550-foot USS Trayer Battle Stations 21.
The Trayer, dry-docked at a mock pier in the $82.5 million USS Iowa training complex in Great Lakes, Ill., simulates an Arleigh-Burke-class destroyer and some of the adventure and hard work that goes with sailing the Seven Seas.
BTS 21 is part of a 10-year, $763 million "recapitalization" of training facilities that will set new standards in simulation technology by using video screens, smells, vibrations and sound effects to … Read more
Robots with names like Eyeball, Dragon Runner, ToughBot, Marv, Matilda and Talon fearlessly rolled and hovered over wreckage and rubble last week in Disaster City, a 52-acre training center for first responders and emergency workers.
Last week's robotics exercise, the fourth in two years sponsored by the Science and Technology Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) at the Commerce Department, has a complex task: finding ways of evaluating performance of robots so that they can be fairly compared, according to The New York Times.