Data link lets even small UAVs serve as secure comm nodes
Defense Systems, July 01, 2015
The Marine Corps has tested expanding its battlefield communications with a small,
lightweight device that fits onto an unmanned RQ-11 Raven’s nose and extends secure communications well
beyond line of sight for Marines in the field.
The Small Secure Data Link (SSDL), made by Harris Corp., is a wideband networking radio that,
during the tests earlier this year during the Marines’ Talon Reach exercises in California,
acted as a replay node for soldiers down to the squad level, according to an announcement
from the company. And at 25 cubic centimeters (3 inches by 5.3 inches by 1.6 inches) and a
weight of 18 ounces, it’s the smallest, lightest and lowest-power VHF/UHF software-defined radio
certified for Secret and lower classifications.
Mission to the moon: AUDI AG supports the German Team at Google Lunar XPRIZE
Audi USA, June 25, 2015
The $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE is a competition to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs
from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. To win the Google Lunar
XPRIZE, a privately funded team must successfully place a robot on the moon’s surface that explores at
least 500 meters and transmits high-definition video and images back to Earth.
The lunar vehicle with the Audi lunar quattro should launch into space in 2017 on board a launching rocket
and will travel more than 380,000 kilometers to the moon. The trip will take about five days. The target
landing area is north of the moon’s equator, near the 1972 landing site of the Apollo 17, NASA’s last
manned mission to the moon. Temperatures fluctuate here by up to 300 degrees Celsius.
Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) is an advanced form of autopilot that can
adapt and respond to changing situations. Essentially it’s a digital co-pilot.
Helicopter maker Sikorsky’s chief autonomy engineer Igor Cherepinsky said it won’t put pilots
out of business, but it will “transform” them.
That’s different from drones, which essentially move pilots to the ground — this technology
keeps people in the air.
Cherepinsky compared it to driverless cars, predicting that, one day, there might not be anyone
sitting in the cockpit during flight.
The gearheads in Detroit, Tokyo and Stuttgart have mostly figured out how to build driverless vehicles.
Even the Google guys seem to have solved the riddle. Now comes the hard part: deciding whether these machines
should have power over who lives or dies in an accident.
The industry is promising a glittering future of autonomous vehicles moving in harmony like schools of fish.
That can’t happen, however, until carmakers answer the kinds of thorny philosophical questions explored in
science fiction since Isaac Asimov wrote his robot series last century. For example, should an autonomous
vehicle sacrifice its occupant by swerving off a cliff to avoid killing a school bus full of children?