Category Archives: Darpa

cyborg beetle

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bunker buster

via WIRED

U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency is creating a tool to bore through the earth to reach underground facilities. The Massive Ordinance Penetrator (MOP) can bore through up to 60 feet of concrete (depending on the type).  But it is rumored that Iran is developing an ultra-hard concrete, challenging the Pentagon to develope a stronger tool.

Using some German engineering, these tools are able to detect voids and soil densities. Additionally, the Strategic Technology Office of DARPA is investing in sensor technologies “that find, characterize and identify facility function, pace of activity, and activities in conjunction with their pre and post attack status.”

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Nonlethal Weapon

95 GHz-millimeter-wave directed energy

A new nonlethal weapon developed by the military has been certified for use in Iraq. It uses a 94GHz (=3mm wavelength) to create a burning sensation on the skin, so unbearable that it makes its victims runaway.

“The crowd is getting ugly. Soldiers roll up in a Hummer. Suddenly, the whole right half of your body is screaming in agony. You feel like you’ve been dipped in molten lava. You almost faint from shock and pain, but instead you stumble backwards — and then start running. To your surprise, everyone else is running too. In a few seconds, the street is completely empty.”

http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2006/12/72134

Soft Morphing Robot

http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/2009/10/soft-robots.html

http://www.darpa.mil/dso/thrusts/materials/multfunmat/chembots/index.htm

Darpa is researching soft robots to be used to gain covert access to denied or hostile space during combat. The video above demonstrates just one example of such a chem-bot, which moves through fluctuating levels of air inside pockets of expandable rubber skin. Through this technology, the robot is able to go from a rigid to a fluid-like state and shift shape considerably to go through openings smaller than itself.

From Darpa:

“The program seeks to develop a ChemBot that can perform several operations in sequence:

  • Travel a distance;
  • Traverse an arbitrary-shaped opening much smaller than the largest characteristic dimension of the robot itself;
  • Reconstitute its size, shape, and functionality after traversing the opening;
  • Travel a distance; and
  • Perform a function or task using an embedded payload.”

Amazingly, it also looks very similar to Cronenberg’s conception of bio-technology in Existenz.

This is extremely relevant to our previous discussions about a technology that could repair damage after natural disasters and catastrophic events. Other than war scenarios, earthquake rescue operations is one of the more positive applications proposed for this technology.

As we discussed earlier, I think the real breakthrough in technology will not be based on  developments of current technology, but on something that mimics biological systems. This could be how we start to imagine our system of “instant architecture”.

-dn