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Everything posted by eddo36

  1. This entire project costs $62 million. One single F-35 costs $100 million.
  2. (CNN) - No one has ever seen any airplane like this, except on computer animation. Now, some of the world's top aeronautical engineers are going to build it for real. The plan calls for constructing a six-ton unmanned, remote controlled plane the size of a business jet with 24 spinning propellers embedded in its huge moveable wings that allow it to magically hover in midair. It's an experimental airplane they call LightningStrike. The design — by Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation — may look pretty strange, but on Thursday, it beat big-name companies Sikorsky and Boeing to win a contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, the Pentagon's research arm. DARPA is trying to develop vertical takeoff and landing planes, called VTOLs, that fly faster and burn less fuel than current VTOLs, like the V-22 and MV-22 Osprey. You may have seen the Osprey, which is noticeable by its two big tilt-rotors on each side. These aircraft escort President Obama's Marine One helicopters. Why VTOLs matterWar planners place high value on nimble aircraft that can land and take off virtually anywhere — no runway required. But traditionally, helicopters can't pack much speed without using a lot of fuel. LightningStrike's propulsion system is hybrid electric, which is designed to be more efficient. Engineers said they've designed it to be faster than the Osprey. "Instead of taking two big powerful thrusters, we have 24 of them," said Aurora Chairman and CEO Dr. John Langford. "We distribute that same energy over 24 fans ... has less blast, less heat, is quieter and less disruptive, which means it can get into places that the V-22 can't. Part of the idea of this is to make it more practical." The V-22 is in no danger of being replaced by the LightningStrike, which will be built as a technology demonstration experimental aircraft. But DARPA hopes to learn from it and extrapolate data that might be used to develop future military aircraft, said Dr. Ashish Bagai, program manager of DARPA's Tactical Technology Office. It's possible that someday ducted fan electric hybrid propulsion VTOL aircraft might be used as troop transports or even in combat situations, he said. Hurdles aheadAurora expects to start test flying its new plane sometime around 2018. But building a successful prototype of LightningStrike will come with big challenges. Engineering VTOLs to smoothly switch flying vertically to flying horizontally is always a difficult hurdle, said Bagai. Unique challenges to building LightningStrike, he said, will include how to apply electric flight to VTOLs and how to push the plane's speed capability to their goal of 300 knots (345 mph). Aurora's plans call for the plane's power plant to be the Rolls-Royce AE 1107C turboshaft engine, the same model used in the Osprey. The engine will turn three Honeywell electric generators. Then those generators will power 18 fans that each will live inside ducts along the wings. Toward the front of the plane, embedded inside two stubby wing-like protrusions called canards, are six additional fans. These fans thrust the plane into the air. The plane's wings twist forward as the aircraft shifts from vertical to horizontal flight. "What you're starting to see here are designs and configurations and applications of technologies that have never been done before," Bagai said. "I think we have our work cut out for us."
  3. (Fox News) - Could this bazooka-style device become a crucial weapon in law enforcement’s battle with drones? The brainchild of U.K.-based OpenWorks Engineering, SkyWall 100 uses a compressed air launcher to fire smart projectiles at targeted drones. The system, which has a range of 328 feet, uses a high-tech scope to lock on to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). An onboard computer then tracks the target’s flight path and calculates the trajectory required for the projectile to intercept either a hovering or flying drone. The canister-style projectile opens up when it reaches the drone and uses a net to capture the flying device. The projectile then deploys a parachute to bring the captured drone and the canister components safely back to the ground. OpenWorks Engineering believes that physically capturing a drone can be extremely useful for law enforcement. “Once captured it can be impounded, forensically investigated or simply handed back with some words of education where appropriate,†it explained, in a statement, adding that the risk of damaging the drone is also reduced. SkyWall 100 will be exhibited at a U.K. government Security and Policing event on March 8. OpenWorks Engineering says that it is working with a number of governments and private organizations around the world and expects to see the first SkyWall 100 systems in use before the end of 2016. A spokesman for OpenWorks Engineering told FoxNews.com that the system will be demonstrated in Canada in the coming months. Drones, thanks to their small size and ability to hover low over the ground, can pose a huge security headache, as evidenced last year when a quadcopter drone crashed onto the White House grounds. In 2014 an international soccer game between Serbia and Albania was abandoned after a drone carrying a political banner caused a brawl between players from the two teams. Technologies touted to combat UAVs include a new breed of ‘interceptor’ drones. Michigan Tech University, for example, has developed an anti-UAV octocopter that uses a net to disable smaller drones. Police forces are exploring multiple methods to tackle drones. The Dutch National Police, for example, have trained an eagle to take down UAVs. The U.S. military is also ramping up its anti-drone efforts. In 2014, for example, the Office of Naval Research announced plans to build a laser weapon to shoot down drones. Last year Boeing demonstrated a laser cannon that could be used to destroy drones.
  4. IFLS - Soldiers in the U.S. Army may soon be taking to the battlefield with laser weapons, according to a military spokesperson. Speaking to a House of Representatives subcommittee, Army for Research and Technology deputy assistant secretary Mary J. Miller said that tests are currently ongoing to determine the full capabilities of this type of weaponry, and that they could be deployed as early as 2023. First invented back in 1960, lasers work by making huge numbers of atoms emit light particles called photons, which all have the same wavelength. In contrast to visible light, which comprises unrelated photons of multiple wavelengths, lasers emit "coherent" photons, allowing the laser beam to stay narrow over a long distance. This allows the beam to focus an enormous amount of energy on a single spot, leading to their emergence as the weapon of choice for many science-fiction writers. However, while lasers already feature in a number of everyday appliances such as CD readers, the energy required to generate laser beams powerful enough to destroy a target is so great that it has so far proven impossible to develop any practical weapons using the technology. In the mid-'90s, for instance, the U.S. Air Force attempted to create a laser weapon using energy from a chemical reaction as its main power input, but found that such vast volumes of chemicals were required for this that the weapon could only be carried on a Boeing 747. More recently, however, significant progress has been made using coiled optical fibers, which amplify the power emitted by electrical inputs, thereby generating high amounts of energy within a relatively compact unit. This has led to the development of new laser weapons by both the U.S. Air Force and Navy, with the latter already having deployed a working laser cannon aboard one of its warships in the Gulf, capable of shooting down drones and zapping small boats, as the following video shows. The creation of new compact laser units also enabled the Army to begin testing high-powered laser cannons mounted upon armored ground vehicles, which can be used to detonate unexploded mines, among other things. According to Miller, weapons such as this could move from the trial phase to deployment within the next seven years. Although, she insists that the military is proceeding with caution and won’t authorize the use of any laser equipment until all the necessary tests have been completed. “Lasers have been promised for a long time, but they've never held up and delivered what was asked for, so the operators are rightfully sceptical. That's why the army is taking lasers out into operational environments and testing them,†she said in a statement.
  5. A multicopter complex armed with anti-tank missiles has been unveiled at a military robot conference near Moscow. Consisting of several drones, the complex is set to perform reconnaissance tasks, monitor the battlefield and eliminate targets. The versatile airborne robotic complex has been developed by Sistemprom, an integral part of the United Instrument Manufacturing Corporation (Rostec). It was presented at the Russian Armed Forces Robotics conference at Kubinka’s Patriot military expo, west of Moscow. The system consists of four drones: a robotic helicopter, sentinel multicopter, reconnaissance multicopter, and an assault multicopter armed with “rocket-powered munitions.†The drones can perform tasks separately or as a joint task force. “Sistemprom’s hardware is called to replace [soldiers] effectively where it is possible, be it scouting, patrolling, monitoring, cartography, transportation and combat missions,†Sergey Skokov, Rostec’s deputy director general, told RIA Novosti on Wednesday. A group of drones could operate in a fully autonomous mode – establishing a position and keeping to a designated route, and also interacting with other robotic complexes. Each component of the complex has specific capabilities. The robotic helicopter has an operating range of hundreds of kilometers, can perform video surveillance, make meteorological observations, and deliver cargo to designated coordinates. The reconnaissance multicopter collects video and photo material using a thermal imaging device, and passes the data in real-time mode to its control station. The sentinel multicopter can adjust artillery fire, verifying a target’s coordinates, and monitor the situation of the battlefield. The assault multicopter is armed with unspecified “rocket-powered munitions.†All the drones use the combined GLONASS/GPS navigation system for positioning, course bearing and target linking. Another Rostec company, Vega Concern, has presented a modernized hardware and software robotic group control package capable of managing up to 10 UAVs and robots on the ground, acting as an integral task force. The system’s mobile control center is mounted on a vehicle with good cross-country ability, is equipped with crew stations for five operators, and could function autonomously for up to a week. Setting up the mobile control station takes less than 15 minutes.
  6. Could be recoil difference? Some kid in the US made video of attaching a handgun to a drone and firing, and a flamethrower as well. See how far it kicks back the drone. And GP-25 also produce smoke.
  7. Maybe the M203 was more practical on it than the GP-25.
  8. (CNN) - It's an image that is being picked apart by military aviation experts around the world. The first official drawing of the U.S. Air Force's B-21 bomber. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James unveiled the artist rendering Friday based on the initial design concept. Black, sleek, with swept-back wings and stealthy design make this aircraft look a lot like another famous bomber — the B-2 Spirit. James seemed to hint at that during her announcement. "The B-21 has been designed from the beginning based on a set of requirements that allows the use of existing and mature technology," she said at the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida. At first glance, the drawing seems basic. But make no mistake, aviation geeks and America's military competitors will be picking it apart for clues to learn more about this very expensive and powerful weapons system. China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and just about anyone in the world involved in developing advanced stealth technology will look at this drawing for any indication of where U.S. design is headed. So... what will the Air Force call this new bomber? James said the name will be up to the men and women of the Air Force. Leaders of the bomber program will be considering name suggestions from airmen, she said. The bomber's name will be announced at an Air Force conference scheduled in the fall. Until now the B-21 has been referred to as the Long Range Strike Bomber because it will be designed to launch from the U.S. and strike any target around the globe. When Northrop Grumman won the contract to build the B-21 last year, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said it will allow the U.S. to "project power across the globe now and into the future," calling it a "strategic investment for the next 50 years." Long term, the idea is for these planes to replace Air Force B-52 bombers, which have been flying for more than half a century -- and eventually the B-1 bombers, when they retire sometime in the 2040s. Engineering and development costs are estimated at $21.4 billion (in 2010 dollars) over the entire life of the program. Officials have been tight-lipped as to the specific capability expectations for the LRS-B, but indications are that it will be stealthy, able to carry conventional and nuclear weapons and could possibly operate with or without a pilot. The Air Force said it plans to start testing the plane sometime in the mid-2020s.
  9. The Russian military is to start testing a new remote-controlled weapon system, which, its producer says, has an exceptionally small and swift 30-mm autocannon turret and highly-advanced control system. The weapon platform was developed by the Crimea-based R&D firm Impuls-2. The turret designated ABM M30-M3 can be armed with a number of automatic cannons up to 30mm caliber and is remarkably small and swift, said the firm head Vyacheslav Krivorukov. “With our automated combat module we have reduced size and weight characteristics below those of similar weapon systems,†he said. The mini-turret is meant to be paired with Strazh-M, a computer system that remotely controls the turret and assists operator with tracking and targeting. The battle station may be located as far as 50km from the actual turret, depending on the connection quality. The company says its turrets can be installed on warships and military boats, armored vehicles or stationary installations. Impuls-2 is to deliver 24 of their weapon systems to the Russian Defense Ministry in 2016 for testing.
  10. The US military has patented a new kind of self-destructing bullet, which the inventors say should make city warfare safer for civilians. With modern warfare moving to cities, bullets that travel farther than intended pose a danger to the civilian population. The so-called “limited range projectile†has built-in pyrotechnics that explode shortly after the bullet is fired, causing it to stop. The patent for the proof of concept work on the self-destructing bullet was awarded to three employees of the US Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC). “We wanted to protect the US government’s interests and position,†inventors Stephen McFarlane, Brian Kim, and Mark Minisi said. The concept is intended for use with heavier .50 caliber (12.7 mm) ammunition, but the technology could theoretically be used in various calibers of small arms munitions as well, they stressed. The proof of concept test revealed the limited range projectile’s significant benefits, including a “reduced risk of collateral damage,†McFarlane said. According to the inventor, the distance at which the round self-destructs can be adjusted based on the choice of reactive material used in the pyrotechnics. “In today’s urban environments, others could become significantly hurt or killed, especially by a round the size of a .50 caliber, if it goes too far,†he added. Funding for the self-destructing bullet project has now been discontinued, but the authors are sure of the new ammunition’s advantages and hope that it will resurface soon, according to the Daily Mail. More in-depth: Army reveals self destructing short range BULLET than could be fired in cities without harming bystanders
  11. Bumerang RT - One of Russia’s newest state-of-the-art war machines, the extra-safe Bumerang APC, with outstanding active and passive defense systems, is undergoing state trials. If the Kremlin gives the nod, the manufacturer is ready to supply it to foreign armies. The Bumerang is a next generation APC with a remote-controlled weapon station, an advanced control complex and layered active and passive defense systems, Aleksandr Krasovitsky, director general of the Military Industrial Company (MIC, Voyenno-Promyshlennaya Kompaniya), told RIA Novosti. "One can say it's an indestructible APC with mobility, firepower, resistance and handling characteristics that exceed in some ways those of its best foreign counterparts,†Krasovitsky said, adding that early testing is already underway. Over 40 Russian research and development companies have been taking part in creating Bumerang, yet most of the work was performed by MIC’s Military Engineering Center. Foreign clients have already expressed interest in placing orders for the new APC, Krasovitsky said. “If we get government authorization, we’re ready to sell it abroad,†he added. The Bumerang amphibious armored eight-wheeler is to replace Soviet-designed personnel carriers BTR-80 and BTR-90. Most of its characteristics are still classified. The vehicle reportedly weighs between 20 and 25 tons, depending on modular armor and weapons installed. The Bumerang is reportedly powered with 510 hp turbocharged diesel and has a top speed of 95kph. The engine is positioned in the forward part of the vehicle to increase safety of the personnel and the assault troops it can transport. The APC’s troop compartment is accessible through a rear bay so that personnel getting on and off the vehicle stay out of the line of enemy fire. The Bumerang’s weapon station is modular. The stock version is armed with a 30mm cannon (500 shells), 4 Kornet guided anti-tank missiles and a 7.62 machine-gun (2,000 rounds). Other models could include cannons of calibers up to 125mm. Preparations for the production of the Bumerang began back in 2013, when MIC built a new assembly line from scratch, using brand-new equipment bought specifically for the new APC’s production. The pilot batch of six Bumerang vehicles was produced in 2014. Those vehicles took part in the Victory Day parade on Red Square in Moscow on May 9, 2015.
  12. eddo36


    Nukemap Not exactly a game but close enough. It's a Google Maps mash-up that calculates the effects of a nuclear bomb. Give your area a look.
  13. The British Army unveiled its upgraded "Terrier" combat vehicle.
  14. The Chinese Defense Ministry has announced the construction of its first homegrown aircraft carrier.
  15. The ingenious XStat device from RevMedX, which is designed to stop bleeding from a gunshot or shrapnel wound in under 20 seconds, has just been approved by the FDA. The injector quickly fills a deep wound with a handful of pill-shaped sponges that instantly expand on contact with blood, giving the patient more of that critical time to get to a hospital.
  16. Ultra Heavy-Lift Amphibious Connector (UHAC)
  17. Do military-themed culinary creations like parachute pork, battalion brownie pops or Ranger red hot party mix sound appealing to you? If so, Uncle Sam wants you to participate in a research study. The U.S. Army Institute of Environmental Medicine is looking for volunteers (PDF) to eat military food rations for 21 consecutive days for a study of the impact of Meals, Ready-to-Eat, or MREs, on gut health. Researchers want to learn how MREs influence the millions of bacteria in troops' digestive systems. "Interactions between the millions of bacteria living in our gut and what we eat is a very important factor in gut health, but we don't know how MRE foods interact with those bacteria to impact gut health," Holly McClung, a research dietitian working on the project, said on the Army's website. "Ultimately, discovering how eating MREs influences gut bacteria and gut health will help our efforts to continually improve the MRE." Much like on the battlefield, one of the main obstacles in the study is finding people to commit to a steady diet of ready-to-eat meals. MREs are generally regarded as tasteless, if not bad, which is perhaps understandable considering the wide battery of requirements they must meet to guarantee shelf life and meet strict nutritional benchmarks. MREs must be capable of withstanding parachute drops from 1,250 feet, and the packaging is required to maintain a minimum shelf life of 3½ years at 80 degrees Fahrenheit or nine months at 100 degrees. "What is nutrition if you don't consume the food?" McClung asked. "We need ways to keep warfighters interested in and excited about eating in the field after they have been training and eating MREs for several days." To entice volunteers, Army dietitians created "MRE Recipes: A collection of recipes bringing a creative twist to your MRE experience." The cookbook features combinations of the limited ingredients available for MREs. Mountaineer mousse dip is made up of a pudding pouch, a dairy shake and water mixed to a mousse-type consistency, McClung said. Dip pretzels in it, and you might have something approximating the sweet and savory experience of salted caramel gelato. The hope is that the concoctions hatched in the study will translate to culinary inspiration on the battlefield. "We want to benefit the warfighter in as many ways nutritionally and physiologically as possible," research dietitian Adrienne Hatch said. "We hope that the ideas offered in this book help entice Soldiers to eat the foods needed to sustain health and energy in the field and ultimately benefit them as they carry out their missions."
  18. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWucbhNK7cI Raytheon has tested the Excalibur N5, the newest version of its extended-range precision projectile.
  19. Yes I wouldn't have called any vehicle "indestructible" either.
  20. Could this be the stealth jet of the future? Japan has unveiled a test aircraft for its first domestically-made stealth fighter.
  21. You probably have to be in the US to volunteer, but if anyone's interested here's the contact info: A research study at the US Army Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, MA is being conducted to determine the effects of eating the Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) military ration on gut health. To be eligible, you must: - Be 18-62 years old. - Be willing to eat and drink only MRE items for 21 consecutive days. - Not be trying to lose weight. - Be willing to give blood, urine and fecal samples. - Not have a history of gastrointestinal problems. - Meet additional screening criteria. Study participation will last 6 weeks. You will be asked to continue eating your normal diet for 31 d or to eat nothing but MREs for 21 d and then your normal diet for 10 d. During the study you will visit our lab in Natick, MA for ~3 hours 4 separate times. We will also meet with you at our lab or at your home/place of work for 30-60 min at least 3 days/week during the study. Data collection will include questionnaires, and blood, urine and fecal samples. Volunteers will be compensated up to $200 for completing the study. If interested contact Nick at nicholes.j.armstrong.civ@mail.mil
  22. (Gizmag) - NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has been trundling around the Red Planet for almost two years now, so the space agency is looking for a trade in. At a press conference in Washington DC, it announced the seven instruments selected to fly on the Mars 2020 rover mission that is scheduled to launch in July or August 2020 with a landing set for February 2021 at a yet to be determined site. The instruments were selected out of 58 proposals from US and international scientists and engineers, and represent a development cost of US$130 million. The Mars 2020 rover uses the same basic design and engineering as Curiosity, which is currently exploring the Gale Crater region of Mars. While it will come with some improvements – such as newly designed wheels – the launch system, cruise stage, aeroshell, and Skycrane landing system will be almost identical to that used on its predecessor. Like Curiosity, the new rover’s power source will be a Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) using the heat from the natural decay of plugs of plutonium-238 nuclear fuel. The purpose of the mission is to study the geology of Mars, to seek out signs of ancient life, and conduct experiments related to the habitability of Mars for future manned expeditions. In addition, Mars 2020 will collect and store rock and soil samples in a container similar to one developed by the ESA, to be returned to Earth by a later mission The seven new instrumentsMastcam-Z: An advanced camera system, the Mastcam-Z is a new mast-mounted camera for the Mars 2020 rover that has zoom, panoramic and stereoscopic imaging capabilities. It’s used for mineralogical surveys and general imaging to aid rover operations. The zoom capability is a considerable advance because the current camera on Curiosity relies on two fixed-focus lenses and has great difficulty creating stereoscopic images. SuperCam: The Super-Cam is an imaging device for studying chemical composition and mineralogy. It’s designed to detect organic materials in rocks and regolith at a distance. Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL): This is an x-ray fluorescence spectrometer, which includes a high-resolution imager to study the fine-scale composition of surface materials for detailed detection and analysis. Mounted on the rover’s robotic arm, it can focus its x-rays on a surface sample and complete an analysis within minutes or even seconds while its imager records visual details to aid mineral identification. Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC): SHERLOC is a fine-scale spectrometer that uses an ultraviolet laser for mineralogical studies and detecting organic compounds. According to NASA, it’s the first UV Raman spectrometer (named after the Raman scattering effect used) sent to the Martian surface. "This instrument uses two distinct detection strategies," says principal investigator, Luther Beegle of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "It can detect an important class of carbon molecules with high sensitivity, and it also identifies minerals that provide information about ancient aqueous environments." Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE): This is an experiment from MIT that will attempt to produce oxygen from the carbon dioxide in the thin Martian atmosphere. NASA hopes that this could one day lead to a way to provide explorers with oxygen without the expense of carting it from Earth. Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA): A weather station to measure temperature, wind direction and velocity, barometric pressure and humidity, as well as the size and shape of dust particles in the air. Radar Imager for Mars' Subsurface Exploration (RIMFAX): Mounted under the rover’s belly, this is a centimeter-scale ground-penetrating radar for studying subsurface features. NASA says that Mars 2020 will spend at least one Martian year or two Earth years studying the Red Planet. The space agency hopes that data sent back by the robotic explorer will provide insights into the potential hazards from Martian dust as well as the prospect of manufacturing oxygen out of atmospheric carbon dioxide for breathing and rocket propulsion, which would greatly reduce the cost of sending people to Mars. "The 2020 rover will help answer questions about the Martian environment that astronauts will face and test technologies they need before landing on, exploring and returning from the Red Planet," says William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. "Mars has resources needed to help sustain life, which can reduce the amount of supplies that human missions will need to carry. Better understanding the Martian dust and weather will be valuable data for planning human Mars missions. Testing ways to extract these resources and understand the environment will help make the pioneering of Mars feasible." The press conference introducing the new instrument suite for the Mars 2020 can be viewed below.
  23. NASA has unveiled a one-of-a-kind vehicle that can perform a few out-of-this-world maneuvers ... perhaps because the technology behind it is borrowed from concepts for astronaut rovers designed for eventual use on the moon or Mars. The bureaucratically-named "Modular Robotic Vehicle" is described by NASA's Game Changing Development Program Office (yes, that's a real office) as "a fully electric vehicle well-suited for busy urban environments." But really, the MRV is much more than that. This is thanks largely to its adapted fly-by-wire driving system and four independent wheels called "e-corners" that allow the MRV to drift like a beauty, drive sideways and rotate with a perfect turn radius of zero degrees. "The MRV would be ideal for daily transportation in an urban environment with a designed top speed of 70 km/h (43 mph) and range of 100 km (62 mi.) of city driving on a single charge of the battery," says Mason Markee of the Johnson Space Center, where the MRV was developed. "The size and maneuverability of MRV gives it an advantage in navigating and parking in tight quarters.†Imagine being able to parallel park by pulling up even with an open spot, simply rotating all four wheels 90 degrees and then rolling right into the spot. Or rather than imagining it, just watch how it's done in the MRV, in the video demonstration from NASA above. Motors capable of delivering 190 lb ft (258 Nm) of torque are located in each wheel, and controlled with a traditional-looking steering wheel and accelerator/brake pedal setup. There's also an available multi-axis joystick that can be used in more advanced driving modes. Because the MRV has no mechanical linkages to the steering wheel, relying instead on a computer and sensor system interpreting driver input and relaying it to the wheel motors over wires, it's also a great candidate for remote or autonomous operation. The downside of the fly-by-wire approach is that failures could lead to a catastrophic loss of steering and control, so the entire architecture is redundant with back-up motors and computers. To make the vehicle feel more like a traditional car, the MRV has a force feedback system that sends vibrations and resistance to the steering wheel. "It’s like driving on ice but having complete control," says NASA's Justin Ridley. "It’s a blast to ride in and even more fun to drive. We’ve talked about it being like an amusement park ride." NASA states that the technologies that went into the MRV are likely to play a role in the continuing development of lunar and Mars rovers, as well as future automobile design here on Earth.
  24. Production models will be twice of the size of this prototype, have armor plating and .50-caliber machine gun. Think it'll still look ugly then?
  25. (CNN) - The invention of guns took warfare to a whole new level. Later, airplanes radically changed it again. Now, experts say another big shift is coming, led by energy weapons, including lasers. The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, said it's on track to demonstrate a working laser weapon on a fighter jet by 2020. "It really is a national tipping point," said Kelly Hammett, chief engineer for the AFRL's directed energy directorate. "We see the technology evolving and maturing to the stage where it really can be used." Arming larger planes with laser weapons has been possible for years. But the more difficult challenge is to create lasers small, accurate and powerful enough for fighter jets, Hammett said. The g-forces and vibrations of near supersonic speeds make that tough. Hammett said he thinks those hurdles can be overcome within five years. The AFRL is also working on another idea that sounds like something from "Star Trek": You might call it a defensive laser shield — as in, "Shields up, Mr. Sulu." Here's how it would work: A 360-degree laser bubble would surround a U.S. warplane. That bubble would disable or destroy anything that comes inside, like a missile or another aircraft. To invent such a shield, you'd need a turret that doesn't interfere with the aerodynamics of the warplane. A turret like that has already been successfully tested under Hammett at AFRL in partnership with Lockheed Martin and DARPA, the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. "It's a huge deal," Hammett said. General: Test in the works using an F-15 Eagle fighter The test beds for these kinds of weapons likely could be pod units installed aboard so-called fourth generation fighter jets, Hammett said. The commander of Air Force Combat Command, Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, revealed last May that a test is in the works involving an F-15 Eagle. "I'm cautiously optimistic that we'll see a prototype test case in the next year or two," Carlisle told Air Combat Command. A mix of laser and conventional weapons could result in "a totally transformed battle space in 20 to 25 years," he said. Very simply, here's how laser weapons work: They focus extremely concentrated beams of light on their targets, heating them to such high temperatures that they burn or ignite, disabling or destroying the target. Hammett said fighter jet weapons would use a type of laser called solid state -- which creates laser beams by pumping energy into a solid crystalline material. When researchers and military brass describe these weapons, the operative word is "defensive." In other words, don't expect to see fighter jets strafing troops with deadly beams of light. Here's how Air Force special ops might use them: The commander of USAF special ops, Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold, said last September that by 2020 he wants them on C-130J Ghostrider gunships for landing zone protection. The laser weapons would take out possible threats like enemy vehicles, or disable infrastructure such as cell towers. When you're shooting a laser, electric power equals ammunition. As long as the plane has fuel to power itself, its laser weapons essentially would be "loaded." As Hammett put it: "You could have an unlimited magazine ... loitering aircraft that could address and access a wide variety of targets. Incredible precision strike capabilities could be enabled there." Are laser weapons legal? There are questions about whether using lasers to attack troops would violate an international treaty called the Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons. The treaty says: "It is prohibited to employ laser weapons specifically designed, as their sole combat function or as one of their combat functions, to cause permanent blindness to unenhanced vision, that is to the naked eye or to the eye with corrective eyesight devices." A 2007 Pentagon report said laser weapons are legal under U.S. and international law. The United States is not the only nation that wants these new laser weapons. "We do know that there are other nations developing similar technologies," Hammett said. "We see research out of near peer countries developing technologies in these areas." He wouldn't say which countries. More money Located at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, the AFRL's directed energy directorate spends about a third of its roughly $150 million annual budget on laser technology. And Hammett said his directorate is fully funded to reach that 2020 goal. But will more money be coming? Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado, co-chair of the Congressional Directed Energy Caucus, told the Air Force Times in July that laser-armed warplanes may not be a high priority item. He cited "bureaucratic inertia." Finally, with the Pentagon's widespread use of unmanned aerial vehicles — aka drones — you have to ask: Would the Air Force develop drones with laser weapons systems? "We're definitely thinking about that," said Hammett.