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Modernizing the military

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New technologies are playing an increasingly significant role in nearly every aspect of society, and the military is no exception. From software to identification systems, diagnostics to emergency management, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has developed technologies that could support the military as it moves into the 21st century.

Dog tags go digital

Researchers at Pacific Northwest have developed a "digital dog tag" based on the Laboratory's radio frequency technology that could quickly provide critical information to those who are responsible for assessing injuries, administering treatment and transporting wounded military personnel in the field.

The Tactical Medical Coordination System, or TacMedCS, consists of two componentsâ€"the tag and the reader. The tag is a silicon chip and antenna encapsulated in rubber that would store an electronic record of a person's medical history, condition and treatment. The second component includes a device that beams radio frequency waves to "read" and update information stored on the tags. It also contains a global positioning system to track a patient's location, a wireless modem and a computer.

After developing a proof-of-concept system and conducting initial field testing in collaboration with the Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory, researchers now face the challenge of making the reader portion of the system smaller and lighter so it could easily be carried by Navy corpsman providing medical treatment.

Are the tanks ready?

The Laboratory's prototype system to diagnose and predict failures in the turbine engines of the Army's M1 Abrams main battle tank helped pique the Army's interest in prognostic technology. REDI-PRO, or Real time Engine Diagnostics-Prognostics, was designed to continuously monitor data from sensors on the Abrams' engine and uses artificial neural networks, rule-based algorithms and predictive trending to recognize normal and degraded operating conditions. The same approach to prognostics is applicable in other military vehicles.

Decision details on the desktop

The Laboratory's EMAdvantage is a suite of information system tools created to prepare for emergencies at chemical weapons storage depots. The Federal Emergency Management Information System (FEMIS) gives the Utah Comprehensive Emergency Management Center the capability to quickly and easily communicate key information between the Deseret Chemical Depot, Tooele County and the Utah State Comprehensive Emergency Management Agency.

Originally developed for the Army, FEMIS served as the basis for hazard emergency management software that is being customized and enhanced for various applications. A version of EMAdvantage installed at the Minatitlan Refinery in Mexico was customized to address situations specific to the oil industry and translated into Spanish. Earth Alertâ€"another extended versionâ€"can speed the process of declaring national disasters by allowing users to collect and communicate damage assessment data directly from the field using wireless handheld devices. EMAdvantage is available to government and commercial users.

Sending in the GOAT

Engineers at Pacific Northwest have developed the concept for a battery-powered robot that might one day take the place of soldiers doing reconnaissance surveillance in the field. Under a $500,000 contract from DARPA, Laboratory engineers and two development partners created the conceptual design for the Goes Over All Terrain Robotic Vehicle.

Known as GOAT, the machine would maneuver at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour and would be equipped with global positioning equipment, sensors and cameras. Independent wheels, arms that could move individually and remote radio frequency controls would allow GOAT to traverse difficult terrain and cross water.

Based on GOAT's scalable design, the team is designing and fabricating a smaller version targeted for use in urban areas and inside buildings where it could be deployed in terrorist and hostage situations. The modular design also allows GOAT to be quickly adapted with different wheels and tires for use in caves and other hazardous exploratory work.


See www.pnl.gov/news/back/army.htm.


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