We continue to strengthen EMAPS, a portable mapping system carried in a backpack, for the Department of Defense's Chemical and Biological Defense Program. Using sensors and lasers, EMAPS creates annotated maps in spaces where GPS is not available, such as underground or on ships. EMAPS captures a floor plan of the area the user traverses as well as 360-degree photos; the system’s novel algorithms associate critical sensor data, such as radiation and radio frequency signal levels, with map locations. We also added high-performance light detection and ranging (LIDAR) to the system and upgraded the software to process this data into a coordinate system—substantially improving the operator’s ability to visualize GPS-denied spaces.
Potable water is a vital resource in a combat mission or during a natural disaster. Currently, the Department of Defense meets the demand by providing costly bottled water and using complex water purification units—but filters and bottled water have their limitations and drawbacks. APL researchers have developed a cost-effective, multifunctional water-purification membrane that can remove pathogens and toxic heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, mercury, and cadmium as well as provide fouling resistance. The technology, named an APL Invention of the Year, has potential military, civilian, and commercial applications.
Better Options for Data Analytics
The open-architecture tool we developed for U.S. Special Operations Command’s Science and Technology Directorate limits dependence on a single vendor and enables the command to evaluate data analysis and visualization tools against defined data and interfaces. Most vendors prefer to provide the government with a full package of data, analytics, and visualization solutions. To support its specific missions, the government has to force vendors to provide analytics that it can separate from the data. Further, great power can be achieved by defining the interface between analytics to leverage a group of analytics to support a specific mission model.
Special Operations Forces (SOF) continue to rely on APL expertise to understand the communications technology landscape, inform requirements development, and identify options for mobile communications capabilities across a variety of operational scenarios. Our experts conducted technical exchanges, hosted two large workshops and seminars, and created and disseminated a comprehensive electronic survey to characterize detailed requirements and available capabilities. From these activities, APL helped identify key capability gaps, develop mobile communications requirements, and plan technology and acquisition programs to address one of SOF’s most pressing needs.