Like something out of an early Neal Stephenson novel: DARPA have agreed to fund a coin-sized one-bladed nanocopter, from the Defense Sciences Office design brief:
The Nano Air Vehicle (NAV) Program will develop and demonstrate an extremely small (less than 7.5 cm), ultra-lightweight (less than 10 grams) air vehicle system with the potential to perform indoor and outdoor military missions.
The program will explore novel, bio-inspired, conventional and unconventional configurations to provide the warfighter with unprecedented capability for urban mission operations.
The nanocopter, called the Katana and designed by Lockheed Martin, is in addition to DARPA’s other micro-ornithopter robot concept (pictured here). Read here for more in depth background to the Katana’s progenitor, the Samurai.
 Although there doesn’t seem to be anything especially “nano” about it apart from being, y’know, really small.
[image and article from The Register]
The Casimir effect occasionally shows up in SF has a way of holding wormholes open, or providing antigravity, or travelling in time.
Sort of a bit like a “flux capacitor.”
However unlike flux capacitors, it seems though that real life scientists at DARPA are also interested in it though, having issued a request for proposals:
The goal of this program is to develop new methods to control and manipulate attractive and repulsive forces at surfaces based on engineering of the Casimir Force. One could leverage this ability to control phenomena such as adhesion in nanodevices, drag on vehicles and many other interactions of interest…
Could DARPA be trundling towards creating something as revolutionary as the Internet?
Only time will tell.
[story from The Register][image from Mike Schmid on flickr]
Well, by now the DARPA Urban Challenge should be underway. As of Nov. 2nd, 24 teams had been eliminated, leaving just 11 participants to make the 6-hour, 60-mile (that’s 96km for you metric-lovers out there). The challenges: navigating an urban setting without running over any humans (yes, that’s a rough summary, but the rules on the DARPA site are in pdf form, which locks up my computer – thanks, Adobe!)
The ultimate goal is to have a computer system that can run a supply convoy autonomously, merging in and out of traffic and navigating intersections. Last year, Stanford U.’s team took home the first prize.
(via DailyTech) (image from DARPA website)
Photo Credit: Mike Libby, Insect Lab
The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding research that would embed insects with microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) that would then in turn allow them to be controlled remotely. The program, dubbed “Hybrid-Insect MEMS” or ‘”HI-MEMS,” is funding three research groups at the University of Michigan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Boyce Thompson Institute.
The final milestone [of the project] will be flying a cyborg insect to within five meters of a specific target located some one hundred meters away using remote control or a global positioning system (GPS). If HI-MEMS passes this test successfully, then DARPA will probably begin breeding in earnest. Insect swarms with various sorts of different embedded MEMS sensors–video cameras, audio microphones, chemical sniffers and more–could then penetrate enemy territory in swarms to perform reconnaissance missions impossible or too dangerous for soldiers.
I’ve blogged this here before, but it deserves mentioning once again just for its sheer science fictional majesty – good old DARPA have been implanting minute electro-mechanical devices into moth pupae, so that when the insects hatch they’re fully wired for … well, that’s the thing. They’re still working on a viable application for the idea (which is an odd methodology, but what the hell, they have the budget for it), but the idea of using the bugged bugs as some sort of reconnaissance companion for fighter pilots seems to be the way they want to go. [Gizmodo]
By the way, Wired’s Danger Room blog is on-site covering the current DARPATech convention, should you hunger for more weirdness of a similar ilk. [Image by Jurvetson]