"Significant changes" in the weapons mix of the U.S. Navy are needed during the next 25 to 35 years. So reports a National Research Council panel on naval weapons. The study calls for increased use of smart weapons, stealth, and electronic warfare. Needed is a family of low-cost, high-volume, long-range precision ballistic weapons for surface-to-surface operations. Also recommended: a new air-to-air weapon, mines operated by networked sensor systems, and an array of non-lethal weapons. More emphasis should be put, the panel says, on undersea weapons optimized for offensive and defensive operations in coastal regions. In the future, it adds, a greater percentage of ordnance will ride on standoff air-to-surface weapons. These weapons must receive target information from off-board sensors, as well as have autonomous capabilities to continue their attack in the face of countermeasures.
Two researchers from Cornell University have won a $100,000 grant from NASA to continue work to develop an energy-harvesting robotic eel the space agency aims to use to explore oceans on one of the moons of Jupiter.
Is the factory smarter than it used to be? From recent buzzwords, you’d think we’ve entered a new dimension in industrial plants, where robots run all physical functions wirelessly and humans do little more than program ever more capable robotics. Some of that is actually true, but it’s been true for a while.
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