The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer - We Are The Mighty
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The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer

Soldiers witnessed the innovation of Army researchers recently during flight testing of 3-D printed unmanned aircraft systems that were created on-demand for specific missions.


The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
John Gerdes, an engineer with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, explains the capabilities of the On-Demand Small Unmanned Aircraft System, or ODSUAS, to Soldiers at the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiments, or AEWE, at Fort Benning, Georgia, Dec. 1, 2016. (U.S. Army photo by Angie DePuydt)

The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command invited engineers from the Army Research Laboratory to Fort Benning, Georgia Dec. 1-3, to showcase new technology at the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiments, or AEWE.

“We’ve created a process for converting Soldier mission needs into a 3-D printed On-Demand Small Unmanned Aircraft System, or ODSUAS, as we’ve been calling it,” said Eric Spero, team leader and project manager.

With this concept, once a patrol requires UAV support, Soldiers input all their requirements into mission planning software. The system then knows the optimal configuration for the aerial vehicle and it’s printed and delivered within 24-hours.

“We thought they’re not going to think that’s fast enough, but, actually it was the opposite,” Spero said. “The timeline of 24 hours to receive a mission-custom UAS fits right in line with the way they plan and execute their missions.”

Researchers said they felt the combination of 3-D printing and UAVs was a natural technology solution.

“Drones or quadcopters are really getting big right now, I mean in particular just the commercial and hobby markets have shown what can be done with a small amount of money,” said John Gerdes, an engineer on the project.

“Additive manufacturing or 3-D printing has become huge and everybody knows all the great things that can be done with 3-D printers,” he said. “So we figured let’s assemble these two new technologies and provide a solution to Soldiers that need something right now and don’t want to wait for it.”

The team spent many hours flight testing and verifying the designs and to make sure everything was going to work the way they expected.

“It was good that we didn’t have any mistakes on game day,” said fellow engineer Nathan Beals. “The day before we did some test flights and worked out some kinks. I think we had the quad up to 55 miles per hour.”

Spero said based on feedback from Army leaders, his team hopes to work on low noise, long standoff distance, heavier payload capacity and better agility.

“I’m very optimistic that most of those are achievable,” he said. “I think the hardest one that’s going to be achievable is the heavy payload.”

Soldiers at AEWE also became fascinated with 3-D printing technologies, Spero said.

“Before we even started the briefing, we set up the 3-D printer in the conference room and started a print job,” Spero said.

The researchers printed a Picatinny Rail, which is a bracket used to mount accessories on a small arms weapon, such as an M4 carbine. In about two and a half hours, they had a rail that fit the Soldiers’ weapons perfectly.

They asked the group what other kinds of 3-D printed items they could use. In a matter of hours, the team presented a variety of functional printed parts that impressed the Soldiers.

This isn’t just about UASs,” Spero said. “It’s about forward-deployed, 3-D printing to help the Soldier.

The Army engineers continue to collaborate with partners at the Georgia Tech’s Aerospace Systems Design Lab as they continue to refine technologies for future Soldiers.

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Here are the best military photos for the week of July 8th

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


Air Force:

Tech. Sgt. Wayne Cowen, an 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron special missions aviator, loads ammunition into a .50 caliber machine gun on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, July 4, 2017. As a special missions aviator, Cowen is a jack-of-all-trades; he conducts pre-flight inspections, maintains the aircraft systems while airborne and employs the aircraft weapons systems in the event of an attack.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Gonsier

U.S. Air Force Maj. Will Andreotta, F-35 Heritage Flight Team Pilot, performs during the New York Air Show at Stewart International Airport, N.Y., July 2, 2017. Andreotta and his team perform at approximately 16 air shows a year, showcasing the Air Force’s newest fifth-generation aircraft to millions of spectators.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sean Sweeney

Army:

U.S. Army veteran Jhoonar Barrera wins gold medal in cycling event for the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games at Chicago, Ill., July 6, 2017. The DOD Warrior Games are an annual event allowing wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans in Paralympic-style sports including archery, cycling, field, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and wheelchair basketball.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Fransico Isreal

Members of 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment fire from their howitzers to represent each of the 50 states during the Fourth of July Spectacular, July 4, 2017. The event was open to the public, included games, rides, entertainment and food.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
U.S. Army photo by Kristen Wong, Oahu Publications

Navy:

Sailors provide security as family and friends prepare to watch a 4th of July fireworks show over San Diego from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). Theodore Roosevelt is pierside in its homeport of San Diego.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jimmi Lee Bruner

Lt. Miranda Krasselt and Lt. Chris Williams signal for the launch of an F/A-18F Super Hornet, from the Diamondbacks of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102, on the flight deck of the Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, is on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Abbate

Marine Corps:

U.S. Marine Sgt. Zane Ashby assigned to Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment (BLT 3/6) uses a M40A6 sniper rifle to shoot at a simulated target during an integrated team exercise aboard the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) July 1, 2017. The ship is deployed with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit to support maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet and U.S. 5th Fleet areas of operations.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brent Pyfrom

A Marine with 3rd Battalion 6th Marine Regiment fires the M4-A4 rifle on the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) during a deck shoot July 3, 2017. Marines with the 24th MEU conduct annual training while deployed with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group to stay mission ready and maintain Marine Corps standards. Bataan and its ARG are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations designed to reassure allies and partners and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Brianna Gaudi

Coast Guard:

A rescue helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco is on display at the inaugural Coast Guard Festival in Alameda, California July 4, 2017

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Cory J. Mendenhall.

Crewmembers from Coast Guard Cutter Katherine Walker watch the fireworks in New York City during the Macy’s Day Fireworks show on July 4, 2017. The Katherine Walker is a 175-foot Buoy Tender based in Bayonne, New Jersey.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Steve Strohmaier

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What the alleged mustard gas attack on US troops in Iraq could mean

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has allegedly launched a chemical weapons attack on a base used by American military forces to support Iraqi efforts to retake the city of Mosul. The Sept. 21 artillery attack on Qayyara Air Base that reportedly contained a chemical shell caused no casualties, but some American troops underwent decontamination procedures as a precaution.


The attack, which Pentagon chief Gen. Joseph Dunford said is suspected to have used mustard gas, is the first time American troops have faced hostile chemical weapons since World War I. A 1984 paper for the United States Army Command and Staff General College noted that the United States suffered over 70,000 casualties from German chemical weapons in that conflict, of which just over 1,400 were fatal.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
A U.S. Soldier with the 76th Army Reserve Operational Response Command decontaminates a vehicle after a simulated chemical weapons attack during a base defense drill in Camp Taji, Iraq, July 23, 2016. This drill is one way Coalition forces maintain readiness and practice security procedures. Camp Taji is one of four Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve build partner capacity locations dedicated to training Iraqi security forces. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Daniel Johnson/Released)

Military officials said a massive aerial attack on a former pharmaceutical plant near mosul Sept. 13 destroyed what they believe was an ISIS chemical weapons production facility.

Mustard gas, a liquid that is properly called “sulfur mustard,” is a blister agent that not only can be inhaled, but also takes effect when it contacts the skin. This nasty chemical agent causes large blisters on the skin or in the lungs when inhaled. The agent can last a long time – unexploded shells filled with sulfur mustard have caused casualties in France and Belgium decades after the German surrender in World War I.

Chemical weapons were widely used in the Iran-Iraq War, most notoriously by Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq during the Al-Anfar Offensive. The 1988 attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja, using nerve gas, gained world attention, particularly due to the casualties suffered by civilians. Chemical weapons use was widely feared during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. After Desert Storm, Saddam Hussein’s regime was supposed to end its chemical weapons program, but played a shell game for over a decade.

In the wake of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, concerns about Saddam Hussein’s apparent non-compliance with the terms of the 1991 cease-fire and United Nations Security Council Resolutions lead the United States to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

While no large stockpiles of chemical weapons were found, coalition forces did encounter sarin nerve gas and sulfur mustard that had not been accounted for in pre-war inspections, and a 2014 report by the New York Times reported that over 5,000 shells filled with chemical weapons were found by American and Coalition forces during the Iraq War.

ISIS has been reported to use sulfur mustard against Iraqi and Syrian forces.

Articles

Here are the best military photos of the week

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

Since March 2015, the Air Coalition has consistently flown nearly 4,500 flying missions a month, striking more lucrative targets to greater effect. Targets include strikes against logistics, command and control, weapons manufacturing areas, and Daesh financial resources, impacting Daesh’s ability to sustain combat operations and impacting their decision-making capability.

The Air Coalition now stands at 20-nations. The broader Coalition is more than 60 countries.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
U.S. Air Force photo

Senior Airman Tariq Russell, a 21st Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, shakes the paw of his partner, PPaul, at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., June 14, 2016. MWD handlers are assigned one dog for their entire duration at Peterson AFB.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman

ARMY:

An Army paratrooper, assigned to 173rd Airborne Brigade, descends onto Frida Drop Zone in Pordenone, Italy, June 29, 2016, after exiting a United States Air Force 86th Air Wing C-130 Hercules aircraft during airborne operations.

The 173rd Airborne Brigade is the U.S. Army Contingency Response Force in Europe, capable of projecting ready forces anywhere in the U.S. European, Africa or Central Commands’ areas of responsibility within 18 hours.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
U.S. Army photo by Paolo Bovo

An trainee undergoing Basic Combat Training with 13th Infantry Regiment at Fort Jackson, S.C., exits the skyscraper obstacle and falls several feet onto a mat, June 22, 2016.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton

NAVY:

PEARL HARBOR (June 29, 2016) Families wave as the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) renders honors to the USS Arizona Memorial as the ship prepares to moor at Joint Naval Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to participate in Rim of the Pacific 2016.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan J. Batchelder

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (June 28, 2016) An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Wildcats of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69).

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan U. Kledzik

MARINE CORPS:

Candidates with Delta Company, Officer Candidate School (OCS) conduct the Fireteam Assault course aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., June 13, 2016. The mission of OCS is to educate and train officer candidates in order to evaluate and screen individuals for qualities required for commissioning as a Marine Corps officer.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jose Villalobosrocha

A Marine with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command 16.2, directs an F/A-18D Hornet returning to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, June 9, 2016. VMFA(AW)-533 operates and conducts strikes as part of the Aviation Combat Element of SPMAGTF-CR-CC in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, and the wider international community.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Donald Holbert

COAST GUARD:

A boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Port Canaveral, Florida, enforces a safety and security zone during a rocket launch off the coast of Cape Canaveral, June 24, 2016. The Coast Guard helps provide safety and security services for launches out of the Kennedy Space Center.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony L. Soto

Capt. Peter F. Martin relieves Capt. Brian K. Penoyer of command of Sector Houston-Galveston during a change-of-command ceremony at the Bayport Cruise Terminal in Bayport, Texas, June 17, 2017.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Andrew Kendrick

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Marines could ditch ammo cans in push to get lighter

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
Marines lift ammo cans during a Company C squad competition at Robertson Barracks, Northern Territory, Australia, Sept. 23, 2016. | U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Carlos Cruz Jr.


QUANTICO–In the Marine Corps’ rush to drop weight, one of the most beloved and storied pieces of gear could be left behind. At the service’s first Equipping the Infantry Challenge here Sept. 27, program managers said they’re looking for a lighter, more practical alternative to the iconic ammunition can.

Scott Rideout, program manager for ammunition at Marine Corps Systems Command, told industry leaders that the rectangular can, which today looks much the same as it did during World War II and Vietnam, may be overdue for an upgrade.

Also read: 5 obvious fixes for the military’s weight problem

Marine Corps ammo comes to the warfighter, he said, “in the same metal can that it’s come in for 100 years. That metal can is one of those things that when the ammunition is brought to Marines, they take the ammunition out, distribute it however they’re going to distribute it, then throw [the can] away. The ammo can itself provides no value added to the Marine, except to help get the ammunition there.”

Some may disagree. The blog Shooter’s Log in 2013 listed 50 possible uses for the ammo can that range from improvised washing machine to anchor. Another website, Survival List Daily, topped that with 74 uses, including field toilet and cook pot.

The gear is even more central to Marine Corps identity: one of the elements of the Combat Fitness Test that all Marines must pass once a year is the ammunition can lift, in which troops are tested on the number of times they can lift a 30-pound can above their head and shoulders within two minutes.

But the calculus is simple, Rideout said: “Ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain.”

Emerging technology, such as logistics drones that might be able to carry resupply items to troops in the field, may also put limits on how much a new delivery of ammunition can weigh.

The cans, which weigh anywhere between three and seven pounds depending on their make and the caliber of ammunition, can amount to a quarter of the ammo weight that Marines are carrying, Rideout said.

“If we can get that weight out of the system, that’s more ammunition that can be resupplied to Marines to allow them to do their jobs,” he said. “So we need lighter-weight packaging. Ammo is what ammo is, but there are a couple areas out there where we can reduce weight to enable Marines to do their jobs better, especially against a near-peer type competitor or distributed ops.”

Ammo cans aren’t the only area getting a look.

Rideout and Mary Flower LeMaster, chief engineer for ammunition at SYSCOM, said the brass casing that houses bullets may also be ripe for improvement.

“The brass provides no value added to the weapons system; it’s just to enable the round and the propellant to interface with the weapon to provide effect downrange,” Rideout said. “That’s where we need to attack that weight. And there is technology out there that can do that and so we’re looking for industry to help us there.”

Rideout and LeMaster provided no alternatives to these key ammunition items, and it’s unclear how the Marine Corps might move forward with service-specific improvements to items used by multiple service branches, like ammo cans and brass. But this call-out to industry is in keeping with a broader service effort to solicit revolutionary ideas to improve the way Marines fight on the battlefield. During the same Infantry Equipping Challenge event, SYSCOM Commander Brig. Gen. Joseph Shrader said he wanted ideas for a meal, ready-to-eat optimized for Marine infantrymen in the field, with more efficient and practical packaging.

Currently, the ammunition managers said, they’re looking for ideas to improve five different calibers of ammo, as well as the cans: 9mm, 5.56, .762, .50-caliber, and .300 Winchester Magnum.

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This is why some sailors wear gold stripes, and some wear red

The short answer? Twelve years of good conduct.


In the Navy, there are many different ways to reward a sailor for their excellent work performance, like a promotion in rank or special liberty (time off). On the contrary, there are also several ways to discipline a sailor, for instance using non-judicial punished or Captain’s Mast.

A service member falling asleep on watch, destruction of government property or theft are just some the reasons why a sailor would get sent to stand in front of their commanding officer for disciplinary action.

If a sailor is found guilty of a violation, the 12-years of good service starts over. Punishments for violations can range from restriction to discharge, depending on the severity of the offense.

Related: These are weird Navy traditions and their meanings

 

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
The gold rank insignia of a Boatswain Mate Chief Petty Officer

Also Read: Yes, sergeant, actually that new academy cadet does outrank you

To rate the gold stripes, the sailor must complete 12-years straight of good service with no breaks starting on the first day they wake up in boot camp — not the day they entered basic training.

If the sailor does take a break from service, the period pauses until they return.

So if you notice a sailor wearing three or four service stripes on their sleeve (each stripe means four years of service) and they aren’t yellow, chances are they’ve been in trouble at least once

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Watch a US Air Force pilot pull mind-bending moves in the world’s most lethal combat plane

The F-22 Raptor combines extreme stealth with supermaneuverability, and the pilots of the US Air Force, through excellent training, make it the most lethal combat plane in the world.


Also read: How China’s stealthy new J-20 fighter jet compares to the US’s F-22 and F-35

In the clip below, an F-22 performs several mind-bending moves in the air. More than once, the Raptor goes completely vertical, nose up to the sky, while draining off nearly all of its speed, and for a brief, shining moment, pauses at the crest of its ascent.

Then the pilot twists the F-22 into flips and rolls. At one point, the Raptor goes into a “falling leaf” maneuver, where it spins and drifts in a way that makes you almost forget that two massive jet engines power it. Seconds later, the engines roar back to life, and the plane is on its way again.

In a dogfight, figures like maximum speed don’t mean a whole lot. Sure, the F-22 can supercruise, but the ability to slow down and bear down on a target matters more in an air-to-air confrontation at close range.

In the clip below, see how a US Air Force pilot in an F-22 owns the sky with incredible maneuvers:

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Apparently this is what it takes to trust a robot

What does it take for a human to trust a robot? That is what Army researchers are uncovering in a new study into how humans and robots work together.

Research into human-agent teaming, or HAT, has examined how the transparency of agents — such as robots, unmanned vehicles or software agents — influences human trust, task performance, workload and perceptions of the agent. Agent transparency refers to its ability to convey to humans its intent, reasoning process and future plans.

New Army-led research finds that human confidence in robots decreases after the robot makes a mistake, even when it is transparent with its reasoning process. The paper, “Agent Transparency and Reliability in Human — Robot Interaction: The Influence on User Confidence and Perceived Reliability,” has been published in the August issue of IEEE-Transactions on Human-Machine Systems.


To date, research has largely focused on HAT with perfectly reliable intelligent agents — meaning the agents do not make mistakes — but this is one of the few studies that has explored how agent transparency interacts with agent reliability. In this latest study, humans witnessed a robot making a mistake, and researchers focused on whether the humans perceived the robot to be less reliable, even when the human was provided insight into the robot’s reasoning process.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer

ASM experimental interface: The left-side monitor displays the lead soldier’s point of view of the task environment.

(U.S. Army illustration)

“Understanding how the robot’s behavior influences their human teammates is crucial to the development of effective human-robot teams, as well as the design of interfaces and communication methods between team members,” said Dr. Julia Wright, principal investigator for this project and researcher at U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory, also known as ARL. “This research contributes to the Army’s Multi-Domain Operations efforts to ensure overmatch in artificial intelligence-enabled capabilities. But it is also interdisciplinary, as its findings will inform the work of psychologists, roboticists, engineers, and system designers who are working toward facilitating better understanding between humans and autonomous agents in the effort to make autonomous teammates rather than simply tools.

This research was a joint effort between ARL and the University of Central Florida Institute for Simulations and Training, and is the third and final study in the Autonomous Squad Member project, sponsored by the Office of Secretary of Defense’s Autonomy Research Pilot Initiative. The ASM is a small ground robot that interacts with and communicates with an infantry squad.

Prior ASM studies investigated how a robot would communicate with a human teammate. Using the situation awareness-based Agent Transparency model as a guide, various visualization methods to convey the agent’s goals, intents, reasoning, constraints, and projected outcomes were explored and tested. An at-a-glance iconographic module was developed based on these early study findings, and then was used in subsequent studies to explore the efficacy of agent transparency in HAT.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer

Researchers conducted this study in a simulated environment, in which participants observed a human-agent soldier team, which included the ASM, traversing a training course. The participants’ task was to monitor the team and evaluate the robot. The soldier-robot team encountered various events along the course and responded accordingly. While the soldiers always responded correctly to the event, occasionally the robot misunderstood the situation, leading to incorrect actions. The amount of information the robot shared varied between trials. While the robot always explained its actions, the reasons behind its actions and the expected outcome of its actions, in some trials the robot also shared the reasoning behind its decisions, its underlying logic. Participants viewed multiple soldier-robot teams, and their assessments of the robots were compared.

The study found that regardless of the robot’s transparency in explaining its reasoning, the robot’s reliability was the ultimate determining factor in influencing the participants’ projections of the robot’s future reliability, trust in the robot and perceptions of the robot. That is, after participants witnessed an error, they continued to rate the robot’s reliability lower, even when the robot did not make any subsequent errors. While these evaluations slowly improved over time as long as the robot committed no further errors, participants’ confidence in their own assessments of the robot’s reliability remained lowered throughout the remainder of the trials, when compared to participants who never saw an error. Furthermore, participants who witnessed a robot error reported lower trust in the robot, when compared to those who never witnessed a robot error.

Increasing agent transparency was found to improve participants’ trust in the robot, but only when the robot was collecting or filtering information. This could indicate that sharing in-depth information may mitigate some of the effects of unreliable automation for specific tasks, Wright said. Additionally, participants rated the unreliable robot as less animate, likable, intelligent, and safe than the reliable robot.

“Earlier studies suggest that context matters in determining the usefulness of transparency information,” Wright said. “We need to better understand which tasks require more in-depth understanding of the agent’s reasoning, and how to discern what that depth would entail. Future research should explore ways to deliver transparency information based on the tasking requirements.”

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

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This secret World War II raid kept the Germans from getting nukes

Just before midnight on Feb. 27, 1943, a team of 10 Norwegian commandos crouched in the snow on a mountain plateau and stared at a seemingly unassailable target. It was a power plant and factory being used by the Nazis to create heavy water, a key component for Germany’s plans of developing nuclear reactors and a nuclear bomb.


The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
Photo: Wikipedia

The Norsk Hydro plant was surrounded by a ravine 656 feet deep with only one heavily-guarded bridge crossing it. Just past the ravine were two fences and the whole area was expected to be mined. On the factory grounds, German soldiers lived in barracks and walked patrols at all hours.

As a bonus, the whole area was covered by a thick layer of snow and the men were facing two causes of exhaustion. Six of the men were worn out from five days of marching through snow storms after they were dropped 18 miles from their planned drop zone. The other four men were survivors of an earlier, failed mission against the plant. They had survived for months in the mountains on only lichen and a single reindeer.

Still, to keep the Germans from developing the atom bomb, they attacked the plant on Feb. 28. The radio operator stayed on the plateau while the other nine climbed down the ravine, crossed an icy river, and climbed the far side soaking wet.

Once at the fence, a covering party of four men kept watch as the five members of the demolition party breached the first and then second fence lines with bolt cutters. The men — wearing British Army uniforms and carrying Tommy guns and chloroform-soaked rags — arrived at the target building.

Unfortunately, a door that was supposed to be left open by an inside man was closed. The team would later learn that the man had been too sick to go to work that day. Plan B was finding a narrow cable shaft and shimmying through it with bags of explosives. The covering party provided security while the demolition team split into two pairs, each searching for the entrance.

Lt. Joachim Ronneberg and Sgt. Frederik Kayser were the first to find the shaft. When they couldn’t immediately find the other pair in the darkness, they proceeded down the shaft alone and pushed their explosives ahead of them.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
A historical display showing the Norwegian saboteurs planting explosives on the water cylinders. The mannequin in the back represents the night watchman. (Photo: Wikipedia/Hallvard Straume)

They dropped into the basement of the factory and rushed the night watchman. Kayser covered the man with his gun and Ronneberg placed the explosives on the cylinders that held the heavy water produced in the plant.

Suddenly, a window shattered inward. Kayser swung his weapon to cover the opening but was pleased to find it was only the other demolition pair, Lt. Kasper Idland and Sgt. Birger Stromsheim. They had been unable to find the shaft and were unaware that the others were inside. To ensure the mission succeeded, they had risked the noise of the breaking window to get at the cylinders.

Idland pulled watch outside while Ronneberg and Stromsheim rushed to finish placing the explosives. Worried that German guards may have heard the noise, they cut the two-minute fuses down to thirty seconds.

Just before they lit the fuses, the saboteurs were interrupted by the night watchman. He asked for his glasses, saying that they would be very challenging to replace due to wartime rationing. The commandos searched the desk, found the spectacles, and handed them to the man. As Ronneberg again went to light the fuses, footsteps approached from the hall.

Luckily, it wasn’t a guard. Another Norwegian civilian walked in but then nearly fell out of the room when he saw the commandos in their British Army fatigues.

Kayser covered the two civilians with his weapon and Ronneberg finally lit the 30-second fuses. Kayser released the men after 10 seconds and the commandos rushed out behind them. Soon after they cleared the cellar door, the explosives detonated.

Jens Poulsson, a saboteur on the mission, later said, “It sounded like two or three cars crashing in Piccadilly Circus,” according to a PBS article.

The Army wants to make drones using a 3-D printer
Cylinders similar to the ones destroyed at Norsk Hydro. Photo: flickr/martin_vmorris

The cylinders were successfully destroyed, emptying months worth of heavy water production onto the floors and down drains where it would be irrecoverable.

The teams tried to escape the factory but a German guard approached them while investigating the noise. He was moving slowly in the direction of a Norwegian’s hiding spot, his flashlight missing one of the escaping men by only a few inches. Luckily, a heavy wind covered the noise of the Norwegian’s breathing and dispersed the clouds of his breath. The guard turned back to his hut without catching sight of anyone.

The team left the plant and began a treacherous, 250-mile escape on skis into Sweden, slipping through Nazi search parties the entire way.

Germany did repair the facility within a few months and resumed heavy water production. After increased attacks from Allied bombers, the Germans attempted to move this new heavy water back to Germany but a team of Norwegian saboteurs successfully sunk the ferry it was transported in. One man, Knut Haukelid, participated in both the factory and the ferry sabotage missions.

Hydro-Norsk-norwegian-heavy-water-production-facility-raid The SF Hydro, a ferry that was destroyed by saboteurs when the Nazis attempted to move heavy water with it. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Germany’s shortage of good nuclear material during the war slowed its research efforts to a crawl. This shortage and the German’s prioritization of nuclear reactors over nuclear bombs resulted in Nazi Germany never developing atomic weapons.

NOW: This top secret operation was the World War II version of ‘Weekend At Bernie’s”

OR: This top-secret green beret unit quietly won the Cold War

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The Marine Corps just spent $6 million on a war tool invented in the barracks

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — The Marine Corps is proving the potential of its newly established rapid capabilities office with an early purchase: a tactical decision-making kit, invented by Marine grunts, that blends a range of cutting-edge technologies to allow infantry squads to compete against each other in a realistic simulated training environment.


The service inked a $6.4 million contract March 31 for enough kits to outfit 24 infantry battalions with the technology. The contract came just 51 days after Marine leaders identified the technology, invented in a Camp Lejeune barracks room, as a valuable capability for the service, said Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command.

In an interview with Military.com on Tuesday at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space conference, Walsh said leathernecks from 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, decided to turn space inside one of the battalion’s barracks facilities into a makeshift warfighting lab, combining a handful of technologies already in use by the Corps into a sophisticated mission rehearsal system.

While the service last year designated a West Coast unit — Camp Pendleton, California’s 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines — as its experimental battalion, multiple East Coast units have also taken the initiative to test out new technology and concepts.

The North Carolina-based 2/6 created what it called a tactical decision room, linking computers equipped with deployable virtual training environment simulation software already in use by the service.

The Marines used quadcopters to create a 3D map of a real training area, which was then uploaded to the simulation. They could then run and re-run the same realistic mission in the simulated environment. They added in the Corps’ Instrumented-Tactical Engagement Simulation System equipment, technology that allows tracking of battlefield movements and simulated fires using lasers, allowing for realistic training and complex after-action feedback for the warfighter.

“So now what we’re seeing these guys do is, they’re gaming in their barracks, squad-on-squad — gaming back-and-forth on decision-making,” Walsh said. “… They all get to take it 3D, plug it into what they look at virtually, figure out how they’ll attack it, then go conduct the mission.”

In an article published in the Marine Corps Gazette, four platoon leaders from 2/6, all second lieutenants, described how they saw the system they helped create fitting into infantry training.

“As infantrymen, we do not spend as much time in the field as we would like,” they wrote. “The decision room is a way to maximize our training and tactical prowess garrison … we can optimize the natural technical aptitudes of millennials while not requiring units to purchase additional materials.”

The Office of Naval Research assisted with pulling the software components together and making them communicate as a complete system, Walsh said. Ultimately, top Marine leadership, including Commandant Gen. Robert Neller and Assistant Commandant Gen. Glenn Walters, designated the system as a candidate for investment through the Corps’ rapid capabilities office, which activated late last year.

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The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force conducts a Realistic Urban Training Exercise in Guam. | US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jonathan Wright

Col. James Jenkins, director of Science and Technology for the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab, said the value of the system is in the ability of squads and small units to run and re-run the same scenario with detailed after-action feedback.

“Here’s the debrief, here’s who shot who when, and here’s why, and go back and just get better every time,” he said. “It’s all about that sets and reps.”

Jenkins said the first system will be delivered early next month, with planned delivery of four tactical decision-making kits per month until all 24 battalions are equipped. Jenkins said the kits will be delivered strategically when a unit has time to learn the technology and incorporate it into training, not during pre-deployment workups or other kinetic seasons.

This summer, between June and July, the Corps plans to publicly promote the tactical decision kit within the service, describing the innovation process at 2/6 and how relatively junior-ranking grunts came up with something of value to the greater institution.

“It was truly bottom-up, how could we make this better,” Jenkins said.

Walsh said the purchase illustrates the need for the rapid capabilities office and funding for fast prototyping and development. Ideally, he said, he would like to have around $50 million available to invest in new ideas and technologies.

“Is it the 100 percent solution? Probably not. We’re going to have to keep adjusting,” he said of the 2/6 invention. “But it’s now getting every squad in the Marine Corps wargaming, experimenting and doing tactics and learning from them.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Soviet Union’s space cannon that actually fired from orbit

In the decades since the fall of the Soviet Union, many Americans have taken to assuming that victory for the United States was assured. From our vantage point in the 21st century, we now know that the Soviet Union was, in many ways, a quagmire of oppression and economic infeasibility — but in the early days of mankind’s effort to reach the stars, it was the Soviets, not the Americans, who seemed destined for the top spot.

On October 4, 1957, it was the Soviet Union that first successfully placed a manmade object in orbit around the earth, with Sputnik. Less than a month later, the Soviets would capture another victory: Launching a stray dog named Laika into orbit. While the dog would die as it circled our planet, Laika’s mission seemed to prove (at least to some extent) that space travel was possible for living creatures. On September 14, 1959, the Soviet space probe Luna II would be the first manmade object to land on the moon, but the Soviet’s greatest victory was yet to come.


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Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (WikiMedia Commons)

When the Soviets were winning the Space Race

On April 12, 1961, the Soviet Union once again affirmed to the world that they were the global leader in space technology, launching cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into orbit where he remained for 108 minutes before reentering the earth’s atmosphere.

To the Americans, these early victories in the Space Race were about far more than international prestige. Each victory for the Soviets not only represented a greater lead in securing “the ultimate high ground” for the Soviet military, they also served as proof of the validity of the Soviet Communist economic and political model — making the Soviet space program as much an ideological threat as it was a military one.

Despite assuming an underdog status in the early days of the Space Race, however, the U.S. leveraged its post-World War II industrial and economic might to begin closing the gap created by these early Soviet victories, launching their own satellite less than four months after Sputnik. America’s first astronaut in space, Alan Shepard, would follow behind the Soviet Gagarin by less than a month.

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Buzz Aldrin on the moon (NASA)

America’s come-from-behind victory

By 1969, America’s technological prowess, coupled with a massive influx of spending, would secure victory for both the U.S. and, in the minds of many, its capitalist economic model. On July 20, 1969, two former fighter pilots, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, triumphantly landed on the moon.

Just like that, the Soviets went from leading the way in orbital space to lagging behind, and in the midst of an ongoing nuclear arms race, the Soviets saw this shift as a significant threat. Furthering their concern were reports of the American Manned Orbital Laboratory (MOL) program, which was intended as an early space station from which crews could conduct orbital surveillance, or even mount operations against Soviet orbital bodies.

In response to the MOL program, the Soviets poured funding into Almaz, which was an early space station design of their own. Hidden behind a public-facing civilian space station effort, the program called for a number of military-specific space stations in orbit around the earth, each capable of conducting its own high-altitude reconnaissance. Although the Americans canceled their MOL program in 1969, the Soviet effort continued, reaching even further beyond America’s canceled program with plans to equip these space stations with the world’s first ever cannon in space.

The Soviet Space Cannon: R-23M Kartech

The Soviets were not mistaken when they considered America’s MOL program a threat. In fact, within the corridors of the Pentagon, a number of plans and strategies were being explored that would enable the Americans to spy on, capture, or otherwise destroy Soviet satellites.

It was with this in mind that the Soviet Union decided they’d need to equip their space stations for more than just taking pictures of the earth below. Instead, they wanted to be sure their orbital habitats could fight whatever the Americans threw their way.

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Line drawing of the Russian Almaz space station (NASA)

The decision was made to base this new secret space cannon on the 23-millimeter gun utilized by their supersonic bomber, the Tupolev Tu-22 Blinder. For its new purpose as the world’s first true space cannon, the Soviet government looked to the Moscow-based KB Tochmash design bureau responsible for a number of successful aviation weapons platforms.

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Soviet Tu-22PD tail turret equipped with a R-23M (WikiMedia Commons)

Engineer Aleksandr Nudelman and his team at KB Tochmash changed the design of the cannon to utilize smaller 14.5-millimeter rounds that could engage targets at distances of up to two miles with a blistering rate of fire of somewhere between 950 and 5,000 rounds per minute (depending on the source you read). According to reports made public after the fall of the Soviet Union, the cannon successfully punctured a metal gas can from over a mile away during ground testing.

The cannon was to be mounted in a fixed position on the underbelly of the Soviet Almaz space stations, forcing operators to move the entire 20-ton station to orient the barrel toward a target. The weapon system was first affixed to a modified Soyuz space capsule, which was then dubbed the “Salyut” space station, and launched in 1971. By the time the Salyut was in orbit, however, interest in these manned reconnaissance platforms was already beginning to wane inside the Kremlin, as unmanned reconnaissance satellites seemed more practical.

The only cannon ever fired in space

While American intelligence agencies were well aware of the Soviet plan to field military space stations, it was still extremely difficult to know exactly what was going on in the expanse of space above our heads. Under cover of extreme secrecy, the Soviet Union successfully completed a test firing of the R-23M on Jan. 24, 1975 in orbit above the earth. There was no crew onboard at the time, and the exact results of the test remain classified to this day. Uncomfirmed reports indicate that the weapon fired between one and three bursts, with a total of 20 shells expended. In order to offset the recoil of the fired rounds, the space station engaged its thrusters, but it stands to reason that the test may have been a failure.

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Screen capture of the R-23M space cannon taken from Zvezda TV, per the Russian Ministry of Defence

In fact, any footage of the test firing of the weapon was lost when the Salyut 3 platform was de-orbited just hours later, burning up upon reentry into the earth’s atmosphere. When the Soviet Union designed an upgraded Almaz space station for future launches, they did away with cannons in favor of interceptor missiles — though the program was canceled before any such weapons would reach orbit.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.


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This veteran buried treasure in the Rockies and left hidden clues for hunters

When veterans retire, they often set out to pursue the hobbies they never had time to do in service. For Forrest Fenn, that meant the hunt for buried treasure.


But this Air Force veteran didn’t want to go looking for others’ valuables, so he buried his own.

A decorated war hero, Fenn flew 300 missions over Vietnam and was awarded the Silver Star and two Distinguished Flying Crosses.

After he retired from the Air Force in 1970, he started an art gallery with his wife Peggy in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

He successfully battled cancer, but vowed if it ever came back, he’d hike into the desert with a chest full of booty and wait for treasure hunters to find him and his loot.

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“If it comes back, I’m going to grab a pocketful of sleeping pills, take a treasure chest filled with treasure and a copy of my bio, and I’m going to walk out into the desert,” Fenn told writer Margie Goldsmith. “Sometime they’ll find my bones and the treasure, but my bio will be inside the box, so at least they’ll know who I was.”

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Forrest Fenn in his home. (Photo from Visit New Mexico)

But the cancer never came back. So Fenn, “tired of waiting,” went ahead and buried the treasure in the Rocky Mountains near his home.

“It’s difficult so it won’t be found right away, but it’s easy enough so that it’s not impossible to find it,” Fenn told Goldsmith who wrote about the treasure for the Huffington Post. “I want sweaty bodies out there looking for my treasure — they just have to find the clues.”
The treasure is buried in an honest-to-God treasure chest and contains gold nuggets, gold animal figurines, and gold coins, as well as some gems and valuable historical artifacts.

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Forrest Fenn’s treasure. No joke. This is buried somewhere. (Forrest Fenn)

Before you lace up your hiking boots, note that the search may not be an easy one. More than one hiker has gone missing looking for the treasure and digging on public lands could be problematic.
One of those treasure hunters, Randy Bilyeu of Colorado, died in his search.
As of this writing, the treasure has not yet been found. Fenn, now 80 years old, advises people to wait until after the snow melts in spring to begin their search.
“The treasure is not hidden in a dangerous place,” Fenn told the Daily Mail UK. “I’ve said many times not to look for the treasure any place where an 80-year-old man couldn’t put it.”

Clues to the treasure’s location can be found in Fenn’s book about his life. “The Thrill of the Chase: A Memoir” is only available at the Collected Works Bookstore in downtown Santa Fe. Proceeds from the book benefit cancer patients who can’t pay for treatments.

Fenn says the following poem contains at least nine clues. Good luck!

As I have gone alone in there

And with my treasures bold,

I can keep my secret where,

And hint of riches new and old.

Begin it where warm waters halt

And take it in the canyon down,

Not far, but too far to walk.

Put in below the home of Brown.

From there it’s no place for the meek,

The end is drawing ever nigh;

There’ll be no paddle up your creek,

Just heavy loads and water high.

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,

Look quickly down, your quest to cease

But tarry scant with marvel gaze,

Just take the chest and go in peace.

So why is it that I must go

And leave my trove for all to seek?

The answers I already know

I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak

So hear me all and listen good,

Your effort will be worth the cold.

If you are brave and in the wood

I give you title to the gold.

Intel

The Nazis had insane ‘superweapon’ ideas that were way ahead of their time

The Nazi propaganda ministry assigned the term Wunderwaffe – German for “wonder-weapon” – to some of their most evil creations.


From sonic cannons that can rip a person apart from the inside out, to a gun that harnesses the power of the sun from space, these weapons were so outlandish in their design that most believe they could never exist beyond the realm of fantasy.

The following video by Strange Mysteries put it best: “The Nazis were a band of f–king insane evil geniuses developing s–t so crazy it’s like they had literally traveled in time 75 years into the future where they discovered games like Call Of Duty and Halo, which is where they got most of their ideas from.”

Check out the video:

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