Many leading military technology advances have been achieved during 2018. US Army scientists and army sponsored researches have succeeded in developing intriguing technologies supporting the soldier of the future. Dr. Alexander Kott, Chief Scientist of the RDECOM Research Laboratory, the Army’s corporate research laboratory (ARL), which focuses on innovation to ensure dominant strategic land power, handpicked the “coolest” advances in 2018, according to military.com:
Number 10: Transporting quantum information with minimum distortions
Future American soldiers will rely on powerful quantum computers and sensors. They’ll need to communicate this quantum information through what’s known as entanglement. Army scientists who published their findings in the journal Nature discovered how two separated photons can now stay entangled without distortion.
As a traveling photon hurtles through the air or optical fiber, entanglement gets distorted. Now, army scientists found a way to restore the entanglement of the traveling photon by manipulating the one that stayed local. They say this is a big step on the road to ultra-secure battlefield communications.
Number 9: Atomic antenna for faster communication
Army scientists are developing a new quantum antenna using atoms excited to unusually high energy levels. A research effort which is underway seeks to equip future Soldiers with more accurate sensors that operate with less background noise. A new quantum receiver may allow future Soldiers to perform parallel, fast communications with miniature quantum receivers. This research was published in Applied Physics Letters.
Number 8: The future of computing
By mimicking brain functions in computing, researchers opened a new solution space that moves away from traditional computing architectures and towards devices that are able to operate within extreme size-, weight-, and power-constrained environments.
A research team devised a way to factor large integers by harnessing the massive parallelism of novel computers that mimic the functioning of the mammalian brain. These neuromorphic computers operate under vastly different principles than conventional computers. This advance may help future Army computing devices rapidly solve extremely complex problems in the field conditions where power and connectivity are limited.
Number 7: Alternative jet fuel
A new information will help design of future gas turbine combustors that may operate on alternative jet fuels, and to develop engines with higher power density and efficiency.
Previously it was impossible to image and measure the atomization process in a gas turbine combustor. Now, for the first time ever, Army scientists discovered a way to do this with an experiment.
Number 6: Helicopter blades tech stops attacks of sand
A thermal barrier material coats turbine blades of Army helicopter engines, and keeps the blades from overheating. Unfortunately, in places like the desert, tiny particles of sand get into a turbine engine, melting and sticking to the coating. A lot of dust particles blow out, especially during hovering.
The laboratory’s Vehicle Technology Directorate scientists created a new material that rejects the sand particles. With this extra protection, the blades survive far longer and Army helicopters keep flying and fighting.
Number 5: Projectiles get extra strength
Army scientists created a nanocrystalline alloy of copper and tantalum with grains of an average size of about 50 nanometers, arranged into clusters. This helps it maintain an exceptionally high and consistent level of mechanical strength and microstructure stability, withstanding extreme impact and temperature, such as in the case of projectiles or armor. This new super strong alloy doubles the material’s strength and stability, making it immune to the deformation response. The research was published by the journal Nature.
Number 4: Animal-inspired technology to maximize kinetic energy
In the future, jumping robots may collect battlefield intelligence while remaining unnoticed. Biological systems, for example a grasshopper, to jump incredibly fast and far for its size. Such systems amplify the maximum throwing power of a limb by storing the energy in a bow or sling shot with a latch mechanism for sudden release. A research found applications for these biological principles that are common to animals, plants, fungi and machines that use elastic structures to maximize kinetic energy. The research was published in the journal Science.
Number 3: New and powerful explosive
A new explosive called BODN is 50 percent more powerful than today’s most common explosive TNT. Energetic materials can be notoriously unstable and prone to explode. BODN includes molecular features that make it stable. Unlike TNT, BODN is non-toxic. But like TNT, it is easy to melt for manufacturing of artillery shells. Researchers also developed a cost-effective synthesis process for the production of BODN.
Number 2: Human-in-the-loop machine learning
Army scientists have developed new human-in-the-loop machine learning techniques for robots or computer programs to learn faster and with significantly less data how to perform tasks by interacting with a human instructor. The instructor can teach artificial agents in a variety of ways, including demonstration, real-time intervention, and real-time evaluative feedback. Agents using the new algorithms, called Deep TAMER and Cycle-of-Learning, can effectively interpret the instructor’s actions and very quickly learn how to perform new tasks in new environments.
Number 1: Alternative energy sources
The nucleus of an atom can store tremendous energies. Army researchers and their multinational partners found a new, safe phenomena to release energy from an atom’s nucleus in a controlled manner. This technique, which is not a nuclear reaction, was never demonstrated experimentally before.
The researchers arranged electrons at just the right speeds to be captured by atoms, tickling their nuclei to release energy. This significant scientific achievement, published in the journal Nature, marks a step in the Army’s quest to find and access alternative energy sources. Applications may include the capability of harvesting thousands of times the energy of conventional batteries — and that might power the future Army.
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