By GCN Staff

The Naval Research Lab is testing a mathematical formula to help autonomous sail drones find thermals.

There's an algorithm for everything, it seems

Like eagles in flight, sailplanes depend on finding thermals, or pockets of rising air, to keep them aloft. Finding those regions of lift comes naturally for birds, but low-power autonomous sailplanes need a way to quickly find the conditions that will keep themselves aloft.

The crux of autonomous soaring is finding regions of lift, said Dan Edwards, aerospace engineer with the Naval Research Lab. So NRL is working with researchers from Penn State to test an algorithm for cooperative and autonomous soaring of unmanned sailplanes.  With several communicating sailplanes, the chances of quickly finding this lift increase, and all the vehicles can stay airborne longer. 

The Autonomous Locator of Thermals algorithm uses technologies tested and developed by both Penn State and NRL to share vehicle data -- such as sailplane location, longitude, latitude, altitude -- with the rest of the flock, Edwards said.  Sailplanes within the flock can then move autonomously to a location where one sailplane has found sufficient lift.

The project “combines data from multiple autonomous soaring aircraft to make a more complete measurement of the local atmospheric conditions,” said Edwards. “This atmospheric map is then integrated to guide both aircraft toward strong lift activity quicker than if it was just a single aircraft -- a technique very similar to that used by a flock of soaring birds.”

Using the algorithm to share data on the location of thermals, the sailplanes were able to fly for hours despite having onboard batteries that provide only enough energy for a few minutes of powered flight.

While the demonstration tested just two sailplanes together, the next step is to test four, Edwards said.  At the moment, there is no technical barrier to testing 100 devices together -- the practical limits are resources and manpower. 

Posted on Jan 28, 2016 at 10:36 AM1 comments

San Francisco seeks innovation fellows

San Francisco seeks innovation fellows

San Francisco has openings in its 2016 Mayor’s Innovation Fellows program for two civic innovators to help create new tools and processes to improve delivery of government services.

The one-year fellowship program offers candidates a chance to work with the mayor, city departments and residents to research, design and prototype digital services, such as transforming paper-based workflows to online or supporting agile, user-centered methodologies in a department.

Applicants should have one to two years of experience in technology and innovation fields, including visual design, software design and product strategy. Preference will be given to applicants who can demonstrate a strong connection and commitment to innovation and technology in the public sector as well as to the city and county of San Francisco.

More information, including the application process, is available here. The application deadline is Feb. 2.

Posted on Jan 22, 2016 at 8:37 AM0 comments

IARPA preps for human-machine forecasting, design tools for superconducting computers

IARPA preps for human-machine forecasting, design tools for superconducting computers

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity is hosting two proposers’ day conferences early next month in advance of new broad agency announcements.

The proposers’ day for the Hybrid Forecasting Competition program will be held Feb. 3; attendees must register by 5 p.m. EST on Jan. 27. The HFC will develop and test methods to optimize human/machine collaboration to more accurately forecast geopolitical and geoeconomic events. 

IARPA expects to draw on expertise from multidisciplinary teams from industry and academia to address:

  • Protocols that train human forecasters to optimally combine human and machine forecasts.
  • New predictive models that incorporate both machine data and human judgments
  • Algorithmic forecasting agents that interact with human forecasters or forecasts inside crowdsourced forecasting platforms.

The proposer’s day for the SuperTools program, meanwhile, will be held Feb. 16. The SuperTools program aims to develop a comprehensive set of electronic design automation tools to enable very-large-scale integration design of superconducting electronics that can be used to build a prototype superconducting computer. The program expects to focus on developing tools that will work within the requirements imposed by superconductivity

Attendees must register for that event no later than noon EST on Feb. 3.

Both conferences will provide introductory information on the projects, the issues each program aims to address and answer questions from potential proposers and team with other researchers. Each conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

Posted on Jan 21, 2016 at 12:44 PM0 comments

Austin 311

Austin wants 311 app feedback

Austin, Texas, is asking users for feedback on its performance and how to improve its Austin 311 app.

The app, which has been available since July 2014, lets residents connect with the city to make requests for 23 services -- including graffiti removal, pothole and sidewalk repair and reporting waste water. Although the app has been downloaded more than 13,000 times, there are only a handful of reviews on Google Play and the iTunes store.

App users are encouraged to leave feedback on the app at SpeakUpAustin.

Posted on Jan 20, 2016 at 2:43 PM0 comments

DHS to showcase cybersecurity research

DHS to showcase cybersecurity research

The Department of Homeland Security funds a variety of cybersecurity research through academia, small businesses, industry and government and national labs. On Feb. 17-19, DHS will showcase some of the results of that funding.

The 2016 Cyber Security Division R&D Showcase and Technical Workshop, held in Washington, D.C., will highlight the status of the latest cybersecurity research, enable collaboration among the researchers and government agencies and connect the technologies to transition partners. 

The showcase will feature 10 innovative technology solutions from the Cyber Security Division’s portfolio that have potential for commercialization.  The workshop portion will feature over 70 presentations, highlighting the work of Cyber Security Division’s principal investigators. Topics to be covered include:

  • Cybersecurity research infrastructure
  • Human-centric cybersecurity
  • Identity management and data privacy
  • Network and system security
  • Software assurance
  • Trustworthy cyber infrastructure

Both events are open to both public and private sector cybersecurity professionals. Those interested in attending can register here.

Posted on Jan 20, 2016 at 11:22 AM0 comments