MONTEREY – Some of the most advanced warfare technologies were on display this week as the Naval Postgraduate School hosted a number of start-ups looking to better understand how to tap the huge federal government market.
The demonstrations were part of the NPS Interagency Field Experiment, or JIFX, which was conducted at the University’s Sea Land Air Military Research Center in Monterey and at Camp Roberts National Guard Base in California, in South Monterey County.
On Thursday, Ray Buettner, who leads JIFX demonstrations for NPS, stood next to the Navy’s Aquatic Environment Lab across from the main campus and explained how the program meets the needs of the private sector and the army.
With China becoming one of the main military and intelligence competitors of the United States, the Secretary of the Navy challenged the NPS to partner its research with that of emerging technologies in the private sector, especially in the field. high performance computing, artificial intelligence, robotics and unmanned robotics. autonomous systems like drones.
“Through these exercises, the private sector learns what interests the government and the government learns what emerging technologies are,” Buettner said. “The NPS is the channel for the rest of the government.”
Representatives from various federal agencies, including NASA and the Department of Homeland Security, are often present at interagency field experimentation demonstrations, which are examining new products for the first time.
One of the emerging technologies is a high performance computer system that eliminates the need for large structures and cooling systems. High performance computing pushes the microchips and produces enormous amounts of heat, which requires sophisticated cooling. These systems can consume up to 40% of the energy consumed for cooling alone, Buettner said.
“In terms of energy, it doesn’t make sense,” he said.
This fact has two drawbacks for the military. First, the size of the structures needed to house the servers and cooling systems; they are easily visible by satellite imagery. The second problem is that they lack mobility.
High performance computing is used to solve advanced mathematical calculations and perform data processing through the use of computer modeling, simulation and analysis – all key applications for the military.
A company there on Thursday has a solution that can solve the size and mobility issues. Texas-based TMGcore has developed a high-performance computer system with proprietary cooling capacity that reduces hardware to a smaller size than a conventional refrigerator.
On Thursday, Seamus Egan, vice president of original equipment manufacturing for server solutions at TMGcore, entered a motorhome-sized vehicle and a strangely blue environment with a computer system pulled out straight out of a sci-fi movie. It was fully enclosed in a liquid medium with steam bubbling on the surface that resembled the bird’s-eye view in a domestic fish tank, if the tank was equipped with a high-performance computer.
The proprietary liquid solution removes thermal energy transforming it into vapor which bubbles up on the surface and is then recycled. The liquid – think of it as a high-tech antifreeze – has no conductive capacity that allows it to bathe heated chips.
The system can be contained in a land vehicle as small as a Humvee or aboard a naval vessel. Ships are notoriously affected by vibrations which can wreak havoc on computer equipment and are currently mechanically damped. But a computer submerged in liquid is buffered and prevents much of the impact of vibration.
The concept excited NPS doctoral student and Navy Lt. Nabil Tahan of the US Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. Tahan served in Afghanistan in 2017 and said high performance computing capability closer to combat zones could save lives.
He explained that medical facilities are ranked from 1 to 5, with # 1 being a field corpsman and # 5 being a sophisticated trauma hospital like the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where many seriously injured troops have stolen since. the start of the war.
Trauma care can create vast amounts of information that requires more sophisticated tools that are currently available in the field – computer tools that provide the speed of analysis that can save lives, Tahan said. A small, high-performance computer could collect medical data on a trauma victim and provide immediate treatment information. This information can then be sent to medical institutions like Landstuhl before the patient.
In the Experiment Pools on Thursday, Mike Flanigan, Managing Director of San Diego-based Seasat, and his team were testing and demonstrating their technology that looks a lot like a flat, rectangular surfboard.
The top is covered with a solar panel that can power the small boat for thousands of miles and straighten up in all kinds of rough seas. Flanigan said Seasat can provide naval operations with advanced reconnaissance both in the air and underwater by collecting data that can provide ships with information not only on what Seasat can see visually, but also on unseen factors. such as ocean currents which can make ship navigation safer and more efficient. , he said.
In the end, private sector tech companies and military and government officials realized what they came for – a good look at each other.