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Infrared sensor to fill Japan security gap Japan is developing an unmanned aircraft outfitted with an infrared sensor after its existing sensor suite failed to pick up an attempted satellite launch by North Korea in April, according to an IHS Jane’s report. Japan’s Ministry of Defense wants 3 billion yen ($37.6 million) for a replacement of the ballistic missile defense system, slotted for fiscal year 2013. The existing system consists of land-based early warning radars and destroyers outfitted with Aegis, which have RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 systems attached. Japan is interpreting its failure to locate the North Korean launch, despite the fact that the satellite never reached very high in orbit before crashing, as a security gap. The UAV would have a long-endurance capability, according to a November budget request, operating over the Sea of Japan at around 44,000 feet. Japan would like a prototype of the unmanned system by 2014, with initial deployment not scheduled until 2020 or 2021.
Air Force, Raytheon put sense and avoid to the test The U.S. Air Force and Raytheon Co. have conducted concept evaluation demonstrations, showing that existing air traffic equipment could be modified to include ground-based sense and avoid to track the presence of UAS.
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The pair recently completed the testing near Edwards Air Force Base at Gray Butte Airfield using a moving “dynamic protection zone,” a collision avoidance alert system. This zone creates a series of alerts sent to the UAS pilot as an object approaches his system, to avoid near mid-air collisions. They used a sense-and-avoid system based on the Airport Surveillance Radar Model-11 and a repurposed Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System for air traffic control. Using these two items reduces the need for new infrastructure to integrate a sense-and-avoid system. “Our solution provides the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense with a cost-effective and safe approach to handle the thousands of unmanned aerial systems that’ll be flying in our airspace in the next few years,” says Joseph Paone, director of Air Traffic Management for Raytheon’s Network Centric Systems business. “Our system properly notifies controllers and pilots of intrusions and accurately shows aircraft altitude, which is important in keeping commercial aircraft, unmanned aerial systems and other hazards safely separated.” Raytheon says it will continue this testing at other sites around the United States.
A thinking man’s robot Researchers at CNRS-AIST Joint Robotics Laboratory and CNRS-LIRMM Interactive Digital Human group are working on creating a robot that could be controlled entirely by thought. The interface they are planning will use flashing symbols that will tell the robot how to move and interact with its environment. “Basically we would like to create devices which would allow people to feel embodied, in the body of a humanoid robot,” says Abderrahmane Kheddar, professor and director at the robotics lab. “To do so we are trying to develop techniques from Brain Computer Interfaces so that we can read the people’s thoughts and then try to see how far we can go from interpreting brain waves signals, to transform them into actions to be done by the robot.” The user wears a cap, covered in electrodes. Then that electric brain activity is transferred to a computer. A signal-processing unit takes what the user is thinking and then assigns different frequencies to icons on the screen. Then they instruct the robot which task is related to the icon, so it can perform the thought. “Basically what you see is how with one pattern … which is the ability to