|Navy Afloat Lab Develops New Military
Weapons And Technologies|
|JUNE 01ST, 2004 |
military often leads the way in the development of new
technology, but before the new gadgets and gizmos can be put
to use they have to be tested. In the following story, NY1
Tech Beat Reporter Adam Balkin takes us to a floating lab
where it all happens.
New weapons, new
technologies to keep our soldiers safer, just about anything
new the Office of Naval Research is working on gets tested
aboard the U.S. Navy's Afloat Lab.
“The Office of
Naval Research is all about preventing technological surprise
from our enemies,” says Master Chief Jim Blesse of the Office
of Naval Research.
The Navy feels remote controlled or
unmanned gizmos are among the best tools to do just that.
“You've got the airplane flying high that's providing
long-range coverage, you’ve got the underwater vehicles that
are providing swimmer detection, maybe some kind of other
underwater threat you can't readily see, and you've got the
surface vehicle providing surface protection and also
prosecuting any kind of threat you may perceive,” says Blesse.
Even soldiers' guns are going remote control.
“[The Trap System] is a tripod you can mount a series
of weapons on,” says Blesse. “It has a long cable on it and a
viewfinder, so you mount your gun in the middle of some place
you don't want to be, you look through the viewfinder, and you
can skew the gun and train the gun on a particular target and
then you have the ability to fire the weapon from a secure
Another tool helps soldiers be more
diplomatic, so maybe they won't have to fire their weapons.
“There are speech translation tools being worked on
right now for soldiers in Iraq, and they either come as a
laptop or a pocket PC,” says Blesse. “How it works [is] the
soldier would speak into the device, it will automatically
translate what he's saying into just about any language, then
when the person who speaks the other language responds, that's
automatically translated back into English. Everything I'm
saying right now is being translated into Korean. The Marines
requested two particular languages so we'll put those
languages in there. Another thing the company makes is the
ability to take a picture of a sign and then translate that
picture into English, so they'll take some of those over there
Finally, think of the Augmented Reality System
as a 3-D map that identifies anything the soldier looks at.
“This is different from virtual reality in that you
see the real world and hear the real world, and the
information we present gets added to, rather than replacing,
the things you see and hear,” says Steven Feiner of Columbia
University. “For example, a Marine out in the field landing in
a place they're not familiar with, it can show them the
locations of important buildings, and it might tell them ways
to get in and out of those buildings.”
And if the
getup happens to scare some enemies into surrender, that's
just an added bonus.
- Adam Balkin
Balkin covers the technology beat for NY1 News. He is the
champion of NY1's "Hat Trick" hockey video arcade
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