Saturday, June 23, 2018
Military News

Drone developers show off latest technology for SOCom at Ybor City ‘rodeo’

TAMPA — With a hum like a thousand bees, the small Hive Mind Nova quadcopter lifted off for a mision seen as one of the most dangerous combat troops and law enforcement officers can undertake.

Entering and clearing a building.

A team of humans can spend a half hour or so risking their lives on the task. But the Hive Mind Nova, made by Shield AI and equipped with artificial intelligence, wended its way through twists and turns in just a few minutes — avoiding objects, detecting human forms and the dead spaces where they can hide, even operating in the dark.

All by itself, and all while sending out full motion video and mapping the interior.

The event took place at a newly constructed "shoot house" inside the new 30,000 square foot Sofwerx center, once a church in Ybor City.

The demonstration by Hive Mind Nova, from a company created by former Navy SEAL Lt. Brandon Tseng, opened a three-day event called the ThunderDrone Prototype Rodeo.

The rodeo, which runs through Friday, features teams of drone innovators, like those from Shield AI, who will take part in more than 30 demonstrations of drone technology for officials from U.S. Special Operations Command. SOCom, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base, spends billions each year on commando goods and services so innovators use the event to impress those with the checkbooks.

"All of this is very exciting," said John Coglianese, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel who now runs the ThunderDrone project.

The idea, said James "Hondo" Geurts, head of SOCom acquisition, is to see what the innovators have to offer, match up the needs of the warfighter, and rapidly field the products.

The rodeo is the culminating event of the ThunderDrone Tech Expo that kicked off in September. But in addition to showing off capabilities like the Hive Mind Nova, or a crawling ground vehicle like the Ghost Robotics Minotaur, ThunderDrone has served as a way for companies to come together and develop new systems.

A collaboration between a company called Asylon, which developed an automated method of replacing drone batteries, and Endeavor Robotics, which makes ground robots, is an example of that, said David Viens, a retired Army Green Beret with Endeavor Robotics. The company spun off from the maker of the Roomba robot vacuum.

"We happened to be in a booth near Asylon and I wondered what they did," said Viens, a retired Army Green Beret.

The two companies who had never heard of each other before developed what might be a game-changing system. The Asylon product, which can essentially run flying drones around the clock by keeping them powered up, can deliver Endeavor Robotics’ small ground robots to dangerous places.

Said Guerts, "We are seeing a lot of potential for drones to help us do our mission in special ops, whether its providing surveillance for the teams, collecting information or providing force protection. But we also need to think about drones as a threat, because our adversaries use the same kinds of capabilities."

Contact Howard Altman at [email protected] or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman.

Comments
Writer resigns from ‘New Yorker’ after twitter flap over Pasco Marine’s tattoo

Writer resigns from ‘New Yorker’ after twitter flap over Pasco Marine’s tattoo

Talia Lavin, whose tweet about a Pasco veteran’s tattoo implied he was a Nazi, has apologized to him and resigned from her position as a fact-checker at the New Yorker magazine.But in another tweet, Thursday evening, Lavin also lashed out at the fede...
Published: 06/22/18
New Yorker magazine apologizes to combat-wounded Pasco veteran over staffer’s Tweet

New Yorker magazine apologizes to combat-wounded Pasco veteran over staffer’s Tweet

The New Yorker magazine has apologized to a combat-wounded Pasco County veteran about a tweet posted by one of its staffers.Over the weekend, New Yorker staffer Talia Lavin wrote in a tweet that a tattoo on the left elbow of Justin Gaertner looked li...
Published: 06/19/18
Nazi or not? Tattoo sparks Twitter storm over wounded Pasco veteran

Nazi or not? Tattoo sparks Twitter storm over wounded Pasco veteran

The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is pushing back against a social media post implying that a combat-wounded New Port Richey veteran has a Nazi symbol tattooed on his arm. In a tweet Monday afternoon, ICE officials denied the ve...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/19/18
Fifty years after he disappeared over Laos, remains of Northeast High grad return home

Fifty years after he disappeared over Laos, remains of Northeast High grad return home

ST. PETERSBURG — In November 1969, at a hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, Air Force Capt. James White and his wife Sharon enjoyed their last night out together, dining on hotel room service with family friends Neil and Janet Armstrong.It was four months af...
Published: 06/18/18
Where’s the new VA clinic going? Not in the city of New Port Richey

Where’s the new VA clinic going? Not in the city of New Port Richey

NEW PORT RICHEY — The federal government’s search for a home for its new Veterans Administration community outpatient clinic is focusing on the Little Road corridor in west Pasco.Three locations in the running for the VA clinic are identified in the ...
Published: 06/18/18
Chicago soldier killed in Korea finally being laid to rest

Chicago soldier killed in Korea finally being laid to rest

CHICAGO — Not long after her father went missing during the Korean War, Carol Elkin spotted then-Gen. Dwight Eisenhower in downtown Chicago and did what any kid might do when coming face to face with the nation’s most famous soldier: She ...
Published: 06/17/18
Howard Altman: New Port Richey veteran out front in campaign for burn-pit benefits

Howard Altman: New Port Richey veteran out front in campaign for burn-pit benefits

Last week, the halls of Congress became the latest battleground in a campaign by tens of thousands of veterans seeking acknowledgment of the health problems they suffer from exposure to open-air refuse burn pits in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.Nav...
Published: 06/14/18
Airman with top-secret clearance, who disappeared in 1983, is discovered living in California

Airman with top-secret clearance, who disappeared in 1983, is discovered living in California

Before he mysteriously disappeared and landed on the Air Force Most Wanted list, Capt. William Howard Hughes Jr. phoned home to tell his mother and father that he was going to the Netherlands.It was July 17, 1983, and the Air Force was sending Hughes...
Published: 06/12/18

Marine Corps weighs wooing older members for new cyber force

SAN DIEGO — The head of the Marine Corps says it’s time the U.S. military branch known for its fierce, young warriors becomes a little more mature. The Marine Corps is considering offering bonuses and other perks to entice older, more experienced Mar...
Published: 06/08/18
Updated: 06/09/18
Military members stationed overseas fret as flying pets home gets harder

Military members stationed overseas fret as flying pets home gets harder

Missy Lee, a civilian who works for the U.S. Army, paid Delta Air Lines $5,000 to transport her two white shepherds as cargo on the same flight she took when moving to Japan in 2014.In the years since, the industry of shipping pets overseas has drast...
Updated one month ago