Military Wants X-Ray Vision and Tunnel Robots To Fight Terrorists

The Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office has released its wish list for 2016 and beyond.

Going after terrorists has never been a simple or straightforward affair, but does it really require something called “laser doppler vibrometry?” Affirmative, according to the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office, or CTTSO, which released its new broad agency announcement on Dec. 18.

This year’s edition of the annual announcement, which outlines the various gadgets and tech that the office is looking to buy or build, reads like a prop list for a Marvel Comics movie  — and yet they’re also technologies that could eventually make their way into wider commercial use. So what does the future of counterterror tech look like this year?

A helmet that gives bomb techs Terminator vision

Don’t you hate when you’re disarming an improvised explosive device and you have to drop what you are doing to make sure your oxygen tank isn’t running low? CTTSO wants a voice-activated “bomb suit helmet heads up display.” Basically, it’s a helmet that displays key pieces of information to the wearer in a way that doesn’t get in the way of the task at hand. Those bits could include details of the explosive device, radiological or chemical alerts, even the bomb tech’s heart and respiration rate, gathered from body sensors.

Similarly, the office wants a hands-free “augmented reality” navigation system for driving. Think Google Glass for driving a getaway car.

FitBit for soldiers under fire

Fast-reaction team members, like the contractors that went in to secure U.S. installations in Benghazi in 2012, can’t always get on the radio when they’ve been hit. If they’re under fire or hiding, they may have to maintain radio silence. CTTSO wants “wireless health monitors” that soundlessly broadcast biophysical information about the wearer to a commander for at least six hours. The office also wants wearable chemical and biological sensors as well.

FitBit for cars and trucks

What happens when the courier you just sent out from your base carrying important evidence or something else is captured and you don’t hear about it for months? A bad situation gets worse is what.

“Currently, the only status communications come directly from the courier, leaving command center personnel unaware if the courier has been captured or injured and/or the controlled materials compromised,” the announcement reads. The office wants an automatic “vehicle intrusion detection system” that can collect and transmit thermal, motion, and other data.

A portable device that can track a gunshot to its source

“If subjected to incoming small arms fire, security forces gain an advantage when provided timely information regarding the firing source (bearing, elevation, range),” the announcement  reads. Gunshot tracking systems already exist, but they’re big and generally immobile. CTTOS wants a system that can fit onto vehicles to give tactical teams an immediate sense of who is shooting at them from where.

Batman armor

Today’s body armor is heavy and bulky, which can be a real downer for special operations forces on covert missions. But the thing about those missions is people tend to shoot at you while you are carrying them out. CTTOS wants what they are calling a tactical standalone plate: “a lighter, thinner armor solution would enable greater mobility, lower visible signature, and the opportunity to carry other equipment due to the weight reduction” — but still stop an armor-piercing 7.62 x 51 mm bullet. 

Tunnel bots and tunnel threat detection software

Israel is already experimenting with tunneling and snake robots to find and scope out underground passages on the Gaza strip.

CTTOS wants to put something similar on the United States border. In addition, it wants software to analyze the “mechanically-bored tunneling threat,” as well as X-ray scanners to “locate tunnel entrances/exits and other man-made voids … and drug and weapon caches concealed in the floors and walls of buildings and underground municipal infrastructure.”

A laser vision system that can recognize a person by their chest shape from 200 meters away

If you’ve never heard of “laser doppler vibrometry,” you’re not alone. It bounces harmless laser beams off a target to produce a digital picture of the surface, sort of like a blind person using their fingers to identify a face. CTTOS wants a laser doppler vibrometer sensitive enough to positively identify a person by his or her upper torso “unique cardiological signature” in 60 seconds from more than a football field away.

A search engine that will tell you if a specific person is breaking the law

Before you decide that the country in which you are operating probably won’t bring charges against the insurgent mastermind you’re tracking, you may want to consult the Foreign Criminal Law Analytical Capability. CTTOS envisions this as a database that you search to compare the behavior of a particular person to “relevant foreign criminal statutes/regulations.” You can also look up how willing a given government might be to enforce those regulations.

In addition to the above, CTTOS’s wish list includes more mundane and predictable fare like data analysis and fusing, secure communications, etc. But the most revealing item isn’t technological at all; it’s a request for analysts’ best guess as to how counterterrorism operators will proceed in a future environment where enemies are much more able to use consumer technology against them. The request is for “a descriptive report that defines and describes the … ‘highly contested’ and ‘austere’ information environment envisioned in 2025 to 2035.”

Technology giveth and technology taketh away.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.