Military Technology

<p> Soldiers must still provide the &quot;boots on the ground&quot; in an era of modern warfare that includes guided missiles and flying robots. But the U.S. military and its peers have begun arming today&#39;s soldiers with futuristic technologies and weapons far more potent than those carried by warriors of the past.</p> <p> The new soldiers&#39; arsenal likely won&#39;t include individual laser guns and power-suit armor from science fiction in the immediate future. Instead, modern troops will walk alongside robotic battlefield mules, carry handheld medical scanners and deploy backpack-size suicide drones in growing numbers &mdash; technologies that boost both survivability and lethality.</p> <p> Check out some of the many technologies changing the battlefield for individual soldiers.</p>

Suicide Drones

<p> Imagine a guided missile that a single soldier can carry, fire off and control remotely like a drone until it finds a target. U.S. troops have already begun using the portable <a href="">Switchblade drone</a> that fits into a backpack and deploys from a launcher tube. If no enemies or targets appear immediately, the soldier can keep the drone flying around overheard until an opportunity presents itself &mdash; a cue for the drone to dive or glide silently downward with explosive results.</p>

Soldier Super Vision

<p> Night vision goggles have already become well-known gadgets in a modern soldier&#39;s arsenal, but the U.S. military could soon get special goggles or even contacts that give troops superhero vision. The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects agency launched its &quot;PIXNET&quot; project aimed at creating an all-in-one vision device for seeing under night conditions or in bad weather. DARPA has also funded <a href="">contact lenses</a> that could display video streams from surveillance drones or augmented reality overlays for navigation and targeting.</p>

Tiny Navigators

<p> A miniature clock that uses the orbiting electrons of atoms as timekeepers could give every U.S. soldier precise navigation and targeting at all times &mdash; even if the enemy attempts to jam GPS signals. Such tiny &quot;<a href="">atomic clocks</a>&quot; can coordinate friendly troop movements to ensure that every soldier&#39;s location is marked and known in real time. Or they could synchronize the timing of &quot;smart&quot; grenade launchers or suicide drones carried by soldiers to ensure pinpoint accuracy and timing for the weapons to explode.</p>

Military's Robot Mule

<p> Soldiers burdened by possibly over 100 pounds of equipment could end up sharing the load with robots. A <a href="">four-legged U.S. military robot</a> designed by Boston Dynamics aims to become a best friend to soldiers or Marines by carrying up to 400 pounds while following humans like an oversized dog. Field testing has already shown how the robot can obey voice commands as it trudges through the woods and even find its own footing after a tumble. Future versions may even act as portable recharging stations for soldiers&#39; many gadgets.</p>

Virtual Reality Training Goes Everywhere

<p> If SEAL Team Six had to prepare for a mission in the near future, they might practice entering buildings and taking down targets through an immersive virtual reality system. The U.S. Army has pushed ahead with fielding such a system, called &quot;<a href="">Dismounted Soldier</a>,&quot; that combines video game graphics and motion tracking sensors to allow for real-world motions that translate into a virtual setting. Soldiers wearing the helmet-mounted display and carrying real weapons would train almost as they would in real life on a 10-feet-by-10-feet mat that also provides vibrations as feedback. The simulator is expected to roll out in the summer of 2013.</p>

Smart Uniforms for Protection

<p> Bullets and explosions don&#39;t pose the only battlefield threats. A new generation of military uniforms could help soldiers survive the tinier threats from chemical or biological weapons released into the air or battlefield environment. Army researchers have already looked at &quot;omniphobic&quot; clothing capable of repelling chemical warfare agents, bacteria, viruses and all kinds of liquids or dirt. U.S. labs have even begun making <a href="">special materials</a> that can sense chemicals and snap their pores shut in protective mode &mdash; materials that might end up in uniforms within a decade.</p>

Foam Injections Stop Bleeding

<p> Life-saving foam injected into the body could save U.S. troops from bleeding out on the battlefield before they get moved to a hospital for proper emergency care. Such foam consists of two liquids that would solidify through mixing to encase a wounded soldier&#39;s body cavity and <a href="">protect them from internal bleeding</a> &mdash; the leading cause of potentially survivable deaths on the battlefield. The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has continued to fund the foam&#39;s development after early preclinical testing success in pigs.</p>

Handheld &#39;Tricorder&#39; Scanners

<p> Soldiers may get an early version of &quot;Star Trek&quot; tricorders based on portable scanning technology. U.S. researchers created microchips that can <a href="">radiate terahertz waves</a>, known as T-rays, capable of penetrating solid materials without the damaging effects of X-rays. That opens the door for handheld scanners the size of smartphones that can find hidden weapons or produce medical scanning images of the human body.</p>

Smart Bullets Fly True

<p> Soldiers have historically wasted hundreds of rounds of ammunition to kill a single enemy. That could change with new <a href="">&quot;smart&quot; bullet technology</a> ensuring a one shot, one kill mentality for the U.S. military. Engineers at Sandia National Laboratories created a bullet that uses tiny fins to adjust its flight up to 30 times per second and home in on laser-designated targets at distances of more than a mile. The new bullet requires special smoothbore guns instead of today&#39;s rifled weapons, but the end results may prove tempting enough to make the switch.</p>

The Rise of Humanoid Robots

<p> Humanoid robots could drive vehicles, handle power tools and wade into dangerous battlefield scenarios ahead of their human companions on future battlefields &mdash; even if they won&#39;t necessarily fight weapons-in-hand like Terminators. The U.S. military&#39;s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency has sponsored a <a href="">$2 million challenge</a> for companies to make humanoid robots a reality over the next few years. And the U.S. Navy has invested separately in its own dream of a firefighting humanoid robot that can climb ship ladders and hurl fire-extinguishing grenades.</p><p> <em>You can follow TechNewsDaily Senior Writer Jeremy Hsu on Twitter <a href="">@jeremyhsu</a>. Follow TechNewsDaily on Twitter <a href="">@TechNewsDaily</a>, or on <a href="">Facebook</a>.</em></p>

10 Military Technologies to Change Soldiers' Lives