By Elena Baurkot and James Levin
Capital News Service
WASHINGTON — The Navy’s high-tech future was on display for all to see Wednesday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
The Naval Future Force Science & Technology EXPO, sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, opened to the public for the first time and almost 3,000 people, including reporters from Capital News Service, viewed the displays of more than 80 exhibitors.
Products and concepts ranged from an anti-torpedo torpedo to a laser that can detect nuclear subs — ‘any kind of technology that can give the warfighter an edge,” said Lt. Cmdr. Eric Kommer.
Here are the five that we found most remarkable.
GuardBot Inc., a small Connecticut company, offered a nifty spherical robot designed to keep troops safe by collecting information with sensors and cameras. The robot works on almost any surface and is able to travel in water. Expo attendees were treated to a live demonstration where company president Peter Muhlrad explained the different functions and uses of the device. One advantage, said Muhlrad after the demo, is being able to send GuardBot into potentially mine-covered terrain and avoid risking human lives. The robot is currently used in military and commercial situations.
The electromagnetic railgun, developed by BAE Systems, was by far the most astonishing display. We felt dwarfed standing next to the monstrous machine, capable of launching projectiles at between 4,500 to 5,600 mph. It is a long-range weapon and uses electricity to launch projectiles. On display next to the railgun was a series of six metal squares, each about one inch thick, with a hole through the first five that a projectile had created and a dent in the sixth.
Although it looks paltry next to the neighboring display of the electromagnetic railgun, the Wave Adaptive Modular Vessel (WAM-V) was a sleek customer. This unmanned surface vessel is used for surveillance and data-gathering among other applications and boasts a flexible and scalable design. Perhaps the most ingenious feature of the clever device from Marine Advanced Research, Inc. is that it can be disassembled for quick and easy transport.
M360 Deep Camera
One display boasted a 360-degree camera created by RemoteReality Corp. The views the camera provided were displayed on three different screens and they were extremely impressive for a camera about the size of the average adult thumb. On display with the camera was a casing created for it by Battelle, which allows the camera to go underwater to a depth of 15,000 feet.
An enthusiastic group from Virginia Tech was keen to share their project with visitors. SAFFiR (pronounced “safer”), is a unique robot designed to fight fires aboard ships. Their first prototype, team member John Seminatore said, ran into issues when the team added more computing components, which made the knee joints unable to support the weight. Ultimately, Seminatore said, the robot should be able to follow voice commands and detect potential fires in addition to battling onboard fires.