Science fiction has a funny habit of becoming science fact after enough time has passed. The wide-eyed wonder of children sitting cross-legged in front of the TV eventually becomes inspiration for incredible feats of engineering, or the means of our own destruction. The latest example of this phenomenon is a new, powered up exoskeleton the U.S. Army is testing, per Scout.
Sally Jones, a former punk rocker from Kent, United Kingdom, who gained notoriety as "Mrs Terror" after joining the Islamic State group (also called ISIS), was reportedly killed in a United States drone strike along with her 12-year old son Jojo in Syria as she tried to escape Raqqa, the Sun reported. Though Whitehall sources confirmed reports that Jones was killed, according to the Guardian, the Pentagon was unable to confirm the news. Maj Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman, told the Guardian, "I do not have any information that would substantiate that report but that could change and we are looking into this." Rukmini Callimachi, a correspondent for the New York Times, also said two senior U.S. officials denied that Jones was dead. Fifty-years-old Jones was born in Greenwich, southeast London, and later moved to Kent.
Popular Mechanics reported Tuesday, that the Russian arms manufacturer, Kalashnikov, which made the famed AK-47 rifle is embarking on a new project -- designing hoverbikes. The concept is similar to many existing hovercraft and flying car concepts -- it is battery operated and stays in the air using 16 sets of rotors. The vehicle, which hasn't been named yet, was showcased at Russian defense giant Rostec's headquarters on Tuesday. While the company has ventured into aviation with this latest effort, it will continue to make weapons and artillery, including the AK-47. The company has been recently diversifying and is actually combining its weapons capabilities with self-navigating vehicles.
Xbox 360 controllers have long since been replaced by Microsoft, but an unlikely source is getting a second lifespan out of them: the U.S. Navy. The Navy is starting to use repurposed Xbox 360 controllers to control the periscopes on some of its submarines, according to The Virginian-Pilot. In the past, many Virginia-class submarines used mast-mounted cameras to see above the water and they required helicopter-like joysticks that required extensive training and were costly to use. According to Lockheed Martin, a standard control panel would usually be $38,000 per unit. For the Navy and partner Lockheed Martin, a major reason behind the change was familiarity.
As Artificial Intelligence (AI) is coming into its own, it is creating a significant impact in our everyday lives. The use of AI in self-driving cars, industrial mechanics, space exploration and robotics are some of the examples that show how it is paving its path into the future. But the technology has also found its way into the defense industry leading to a worrisome increase in the manufacture of autonomous weapons. The so-called "thinking weapons" were described by the Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a 2016 presentation at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in the U.S. State Department of Defense. But robotic systems to do lethal harm… a Terminator without a conscience," he said while referring to the 1984 cult science fiction film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, "Terminator."
The U.S. Army ordered units to halt the use of DJI drones, it was revealed last week, but officials still won't say why it banned the company's products. DJI told International Business Times it reached out to officials about the direction to discontinue the use of its drones, but the U.S. army did not respond to them. "The US Army has not explained why it suddenly banned the use of DJI drones and components, what'cyber vulnerabilities' it is concerned about, or whether it has also excluded drones made by other manufacturers," DJI said. In a letter obtained by sUAS News, the U.S. Army Research Lab and U.S. Navy found there were operational risks associated with DJI products. The memo cited a classified report, "DJI UAS Technology Threat and User Vulnerabilities," and a U.S. Navy memo, "Operational Risks with Regards to DJI Family of Products."
The U.S. Army has ordered units to cease the use of DJI drones, according to a memo obtained by sUAS News. The letter, dated this week, said the U.S. Army Research Lab and U.S. Navy found there were operational risks linked to DJI equipments. Officials cited a classified report called "DJI UAS Technology Threat and User Vulnerabilities," as well as a U.S. Navy memorandum called "Operational Risks with Regards to DJI Family of Products." The report and the memo were both dated May 2017, which suggests officials have been looking into this for a while. In the letter, the U.S. Army's Lieutenant General Joseph Anderson said: "DJI Unmanned Aircraft Systems [UAS] products are the most widely used non-program of record commercial off-the-shelf UAS employed by the Army.
A U.S. Military DARPA program is putting $65 million into the creation of an implantable device that will provide data-transfer between human brains and the digital world. The program seeks to heighten hearing, sight and other sensory perception as well as creating a digital brain implant to relay neuron transmissions directly to digital devices. DARPA's research team acknowledged that creating an interface and communicating with the signals of one million neurons "sounds lofty," but Alveda says their research will only map out a foundation for more complex research in the future. But if we're successful in delivering rich sensory signals directly to the brain, NESD will lay a broad foundation for new neurological therapies."
"The armed pro-regime Shaheed-129 UAV was shot down by a U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle at approximately 12:30 a.m. Carla Babb, the Pentagon correspondent for Voice of America (VOA) tweeted Tuesday saying the sources have confirmed that the Iranian-made drone shot down by the U.S. fighter jet was being operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. The Russian Defense Ministry said Tuesday it would exert new control over the skies of western Syria in response to the downing of a Syrian fighter jet by the U.S. Air Force on Sunday, reports said. "From now on, in areas where Russian aviation performs combat missions in the skies of Syria, any airborne objects found west of the Euphrates River, including aircraft and unmanned vehicles belonging to the international coalition, tracked by means of Russian land and air anti-aircraft defense, will be considered air targets," CNN reported citing the Defense Ministry statement. The U.S. military has established a roughly 50-kilometer "deconfliction" ring around al-Tanf and has warned the pro-Assad forces -- through a Russian deconfliction channel -- that movement within the zone could be considered hostile and the Iranian drone was outside that deconfliction area when it was shot down, the Washington Post reported citing a U.S. defense official.
Reuters reported Wednesday U.S. officials are concerned such cutting-edge technologies as artificial intelligence and machine learning could be used by the Chinese to augment their military capabilities and achieve greater advancements in strategic industries. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are seen as key components of the military drone program, which is an integral part of the fight against the Islamic State group. Reuters said it had reviewed a Pentagon report that warns China is avoiding U.S. oversight and gaining access to sensitive technology as the debate continues on strengthening the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which reviews foreign acquisitions of U.S. companies based on national security considerations. An aide to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told Reuters the lawmaker is working on legislation that would give the committee, which is composed by representatives from the departments of Treasury, Defense, Justice, Homeland Security, Commerce, State and Energy, more authority to block some technology investments.