(continued from previous page)
You've been looking at a microwave beam to stop cars--it would basically zap the microprocessors in the cars--but that's not quite ready for prime time, as I understand it.
Heal: That's right. It's tough--(the challenge is) not moving the energy across free space, which is tough enough. It's the fact that most of the cars now are either rustproof--using a nonconductive material on the bottom, like Ziebart and so forth--or they have plastic panels, and the computers are all protected from radiation anyway. So (the challenge) is actually coupling the electric current into the car to get it into the computer.
The one that's been successful, by Eureka Aerospace, approaches it a little bit differently than most of the other developers. Rather than just spraying a car with high doses of radiation, (CEO James Tatoian) looked at it the same way you would killing a tank.
There are certain parts of the tank that are pretty much impervious--for instance, you don't shoot at the turret--but there are other places that are very, very vulnerable. Well, his idea is that there are parts of the car that are going to be more vulnerable to this coupling issue than others.
Interestingly enough, he's been successful on every single attempt, except for on one Chevy Lumina: he could kill the engine, but then it would restart, for some reason. We still haven't figured out why that one is so hard. And then we don't know how it's going to work on a diesel engine yet, either.
What are the most promising things you guys are looking at right now, the things that you think are going to be fielded soonest?
Heal: Probably the cyber command post. It's a concept and a technology. The concept is that it (enables you to move) information from a crime scene--which has a lot of situational awareness without the same degree of expertise and authority--to a field command post, and that also will lead to any subject matter expert anywhere in the world. I would expect that to be operational in the next 12 months.
Then we've got the L-3 3D scanner, which is very promising. That is actually commercially available right now. As soon as (a technology like this) does get in the marketplace, we drop it, and it has to go through all the other systems.
Once you have a developer that gets a product developed to the point where it has commercial value, they're not very interested in changing it. So the success that we've had has been in identifying those technologies that are still in the early-development stages that we can then leverage with suggestions and ideas. When (the developer) finally does get it ready, it more closely fits our needs, and he's happy, usually, because he's got a more marketable product.
One specific technology I wanted to address with you is the SkySeer. You see that as promising, but I guess there are still some issues with that?
Heal: Actually, the technology is not the holdup; it's the authority. What happened is, the (Federal Aviation Administration) got blindsided. We were actually ahead of them--the technology exceeded the authority to use it.
That's not uncommon with any of the technologies, but in this particular case, we way underestimated how far behind (the FAA was), both in thinking and in preparation.
The original intent was to fly it under the same regulations you would fly any other radio-controlled airplane, the same ones you can buy in Kmart, and so they took an interpretation called the "tools or toy" doctrine. It basically says, if you use it as a toy, no problem; if you use it as a tool, then it has to come under a different set of regulations. It has nothing to do with the aircraft.
They still have no definitive guidance. So the General Accounting Office is now doing an investigation, and its report is due out in November, and we think that we're going to get some definitive guidance from the FAA shortly thereafter.
SkySeer is one of four (drones) that we're looking at. The reason we were enthralled with SkySeer is that it was built from the bottom up for law enforcement purposes. Everything else has either been a toy that has been enhanced or a military application that has been adapted.
Needless to say, the SkySeer is very appealing to us because, literally, we worked with them when that was still just somebody's idea, but there are other ones out there--AirRobot, Night Hawk, and CyberBug are all promising.
What's the weirdest thing you've encountered?
Heal: Weirdest? Maybe a remote-controlled machine gun. Let me think. Weird is tough because we live on the threshold--it's weird all the time. In fact, if we define it as weird, we probably haven't got an open-enough mind.
I'll tell you some things that surprised us. The magnetic-acoustic device was one that literally blew our socks off.
What is that?
Heal: The Magnetic-acoustic device (from HPV Technologies) is basically a sound propagation system, for lack of a better term. They're not speakers in the conventional sense because they use magnets instead of speakers. They also use a planar wave instead of an acoustical wave.
The sound comes through with unbelievable clarity at ranges that defy anything I could describe. As a matter of fact, at one measured mile, I personally listened to a Frank Sinatra record with the accompaniment, the background music, the lyrics, everything.
1 commentJoin the conversation! Add your comment