Imagine if the first soldiers to enter an enemy city could map it street by street, recording every window and doorway of the urban battlefield in an accurate 3D model that could instantly be relayed to their comrades at base – and updated in near-real time. Thanks to funding from the U.S. military and cooperation from the Virginia engineering firm SET Associates (Science, Engineering, Technology), engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have found a way to do just that. Of course, this same technology can also make maps for use by emergency services, urban planners and even tourists.
Right now, a detailed urban model can take many months to create, but the new “virtualised reality” technologies can shrink that to hours. Here’s how it works:
Alion Science and Technology Corp. in Chicago, IL won a $20 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for technical services to “develop an intelligent control system for swarming unmanned vehicles to demonstrate autonomous operations and cooperative behavior for persistent surveillance.”
The Smart Warfighting Array of Reconfigurable Modules (SWARM) UAV project at the Naval Surface Warfare Center has already assembled a fleet of 10 lightweight units designed to be used in a cooperative fashion, functioning together as a ‘swarm’ of aircraft. The UAVs would communicate relevant information and can reconfigure themselves, autonomously changing direction in response to sensor input to achieve the mission at hand. For example, if you have 100 aircraft collecting sensor input over a field of operation and five of them have engine failure or are shot out of the sky, the rest would reconfigure themselves to collect the required data and complete the mission.
The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) bought 19,000 torso-protecting Interceptor Alpha “outer tactical vests” from Point Blank Body Armor Inc. of Pompano Beach, FL. The vests recently failed tests by military ballistics experts involving 9mm pistol rounds, but subsequent tests by a private firm gave passing grades to samples pulled from the challenged lots. While the Interceptor Alpha OTVs are vastly superior to the flak jacket they replaced, the Marines acknowledged providing the vests to troops after signing waivers acknowledging that the equipment did not meet certain minimum standards.
On May 4, 2005, the USMC issued a Corpswide message recalling 5,277 Interceptor vests from 11 lots that failed government ballistic performance tests – slightly more than half the total vests issued to Marines from questionable lots.
The Lockheed Martin-built GPS 2R-M1 spacecraft was supposed to launch from Cape Canaveral in May 2002 aboard a Boeing Delta 2 rocket, but issues involving internal components have put the brakes on the $75 million mission. Problems included:
A mis-installed capacitor on a navigation payload under assembly.
Screws were discovered not properly torqued in a navigation payload. Inspections performed on GPS 2R-M1 showed its screws were torqued.
Navigation payload-manufacturer ITT determined that a Destructive Physical Analysis had not been performed for a relay used on the GPS 2R-M1 satellite’s L-Band transmitter DC-DC converter.
The units come pre-loaded with maps and databases for those specific locations. These units have the ability to display Military Grid Reference System (MGRS), in addition to latitude & longitude coordinates.
ERAPSCO in Columbia City, IN received a $10 million firm-fixed-price contract for AN/SSQ-101 sonobuoys and associated data. The AN/SSQ-101 sonobuoys are dropped from various airborne platforms, then float in the water and send out sonar signals to search for submarines. Work will be performed in Columbia City, IN (50%) and DeLeon Springs, FL (50%), and is expected to be complete by April 2007. The contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, Crane, IN issued the contract (N00164-05-C-6763).
The AN/SSQ-101 sonobuoy is part of the Improved Extended Echo Ranging (IEER) system.
The Boeing Co. in Seattle, WA is being awarded a $15.2 million firm-fixed-price contract covering 15 test instrumentation kits for the Air Launched Cruise Missile and 15 kits for the Conventional Air Launched Cruise Missile, plus peripheral equipment. Solicitation began October 2004, negotiations were complete April 2005, and work will be complete by August 2007. The Headquarters Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker Air Force Base, OK issued the contract (FA8107-05-C-0003).
Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. in Oak Brook, IL won a $7.9 million firm-fixed-price contract for maintenance dredging, and for the Columbia River Channel Improvement project. Work will be performed in Astoria, OR (41%), Warrenton, OR (29%), Hammond, OR (7%), Skip anon, OR (7%), Ill Waco, WA (9%), and Chinook, WA (7%), and is expected to be complete by Dec. 20, 2005. There were 54 bids solicited on April 22, 2005, and three bids were received. The Army Engineer District in Portland, OR issued the contract (W9127N-05-C-0012).
Beretta U.S.A. Corp. in Accokeek, MD received a sole-source $6.5 million firm-fixed-price contract from the U.S. military for M9 pistols. Work will be performed in Accokeek, MD and is expected to be complete by June 17, 2006. The Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command in Rock Island, IL issued the contract (W52H09-05-C-0130).