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Def-tech-expl-detectorA Vanderbilt University professor has come up with a faster and less expensive way to test for explosives residue on surfaces.

Prof. Sharon Weiss has modified white gold leaf paper so that its surface provides signal amplification of 100 million times – so that a laser and detector to identify the chemical molecules of whatever it has been applied to.

“We start with a very thin, white gold film and use a simple chemical soak and one-step direct imprinting process to create what is essentially a fancy gold sponge,” said Weiss, an associate professor of electrical engineering and physics who also serves on the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center’s Research and Technology Directorate at Aberdeen, Md.

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U.S. Army researchers are developing a pocket-sized aerial surveillance drone for soldiers and small units operating on unfamiliar ground.

“The Cargo Pocket Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance program, or CP-ISR, seeks to develop a mobile soldier sensor to increase the situational awareness of dismounted soldiers by providing real-time video surveillance of threat areas within their immediate operational environment,” officials at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center maintain.

Larger systems have been used to provide over-the-hill ISR capabilities on the battlefield for almost a decade, but none of those have delivered it directly to the squad level, where soldiers need the ability to see around the corner or into the next room during combat missions.

“The Cargo Pocket ISR is a true example of an applied systems approach for developing new soldier capabilities,” said Dr. Laurel Allender, acting NSRDEC technical director. “It provides an integrated capability for the soldier and small unit for increased situational awareness and understanding with negligible impact on soldier load and agility.”

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malaysia-417-600x400Europe is in a hurry to pick up an unarmed drone for use over Ukraine, where a separatist group this month shot down a commercial airliner, killing everyone on board.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has posted on its website a solicitation for a “turnkey” solution to monitoring the area. The UAV would be deployed under the authority of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine at the request of the Ukrainian government.

“The (OSCE) monitors are to contribute to reducing tensions and fostering peace, stability and security,” according to the group’s website.

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robot-challengeThe Pentagon is giving more time and money to companies that have shown promise in fielding a humanoid robot.

Eleven of 16 firms that put their robot prototypes through their paces in June at have now been given an additional six months and $1.5 million each by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to continue their work, the Pentagon said on July 15.

The DARPA Robotics Challenge, or DRC, was originally scheduled to end with a winning robot in December, but has now been pushed back to June.

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MH17 ShrapnelThe Financial Times posted a photo of what appears to be wreckage from the Malaysian Airlines jetliner peppered with shrapnel damage from an anti-aircraft missile.

The international community has pressed for an investigation into the cause of the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH-17 crash, However, many, including U.S. officials, have said the evidence points to pro-Russian separatists shooting down the passenger jet with an advanced surface-to-air missile system capable of hitting an aircraft flying at 33,000 feet.

The photographed wreckage above adds to that mounting collection of evidence.  [Continue reading…]

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