The digital revolution has seen tremendous advancement in technological solutions across a wide range of industries, transforming the way people work and broadening the scope of what is achievable. The world of automation and analytics has accelerated efficiency, safety, and productivity, while digitalization has switched operations from pen-to-paper to computerized solutions.
Every industry has its unique set of obstacles, and the defense industry is no exception. So, how can the industry use rugged computing to keep its operations operating as efficiently as possible? Stay with us to learn more and explore the possibilities of rugged computing solutions.
What is Rugged Computing?
Rugged computing refers to the use of rugged computers and software. Rugged Computers are designed to streamline real-time data collection operations in the most challenging environments. Rugged Computers come in a variety of form sizes and configurations.
They come equipped with advanced scanning technology, integrated voice and data technology, built-in software intelligence, rugged durability, improved ergonomics, and a broad spectrum of communication options. Rugged Mobile Computers are virtually waterproof, tumble-proof, drop-proof, dust-proof, and are built to resist years of tough exposure.
With their lightweight and compact form, these sturdy devices are appropriate for a wide range of demanding applications and usage settings, making them an excellent choice for military use.
Why Does the Military Need Rugged Computing Solutions?
Virtually every industry now needs some advanced level of computing solutions. The military sector differs in that it deploys these computer devices on the battlefield. Military operations rely on efficient and effective management to communicate, coordinate transportation, tactical supplies, and vehicle maintenance.
With rugged computers, ground forces can track and communicate with vehicles on the frontline without fear of equipment breakdown. Also, during medical emergencies, medical personnel can obtain patient records and forward casualty resuscitation information using rugged mobile computing solutions.
Rugged devices can be configured with military data interfaces and encrypted communication, and can steadily access a mesh of networks, storage devices, servers, and analysis tools, allowing commanders to make better field judgments. Furthermore, with so many variables to consider when planning a mission, anything that can be automated is welcome.
Military Technology Trends
The military continues adapting to current technological trends. Some of the most significant trends in military technology include:
Although artificial intelligence will not be a brand-new technology in 2022, it is picking up pace in the global military industry. It has already been deployed in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. AI enables the use of computer vision to operate autonomous combat systems, potentially reducing casualties. Artificial intelligence can also be used to leverage digital twin technology and machine learning, allowing for testing new equipment and goods ahead of time.
In the past, robotic technology seemed like a lofty goal. However, as the last few years have shown, robotic technology is already affecting a variety of global industries and sectors, including the military. It can shield forces, improve situational awareness, minimize physical workload, and, perhaps most crucially, allow more flexibility and movement while crossing difficult terrain. The military has been able to achieve critical objectives, allowing them to secure populations and cement gains.
Internet of Military Things
The Internet of Military Things (IoMT) or Internet of Battlefield Things is akin to the Internet of Things (IoT). It is similar in that it refers to the connection of ships, drones, planes, tanks, operating bases, and troops throughout an extensive cohesive network. When response time is critical, this has been shown to improve perception in the field and raise situational awareness. This is predicted to continue expanding and developing in the years to come.
Cyber-attacks on military systems are common, and they can result in the loss of confidential military data and damage to military equipment. The severity and frequency of cyberattacks has progressively increased during the last few years. Prescriptive security technology employs cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and automation to detect and counter possible threats before they compromise cyberdefenses.
Major areas of focus include connected military hardware security, cyber protection, and nuclear security. Military cyber capabilities are also being developed, ranging from malware and ransomware to phishing attacks.
Immersive technologies make it simple to create immersive, iterative, and flexible experiences such as for flight or combat training. Startups are using virtual reality (VR) to develop synthetic training environments (STE). These experiences supplement traditional training and mission rehearsal, enhancing troop and unit readiness.
Aside from providing training opportunities, augmented reality (AR) helps on-the-ground personnel perform better in their tasks. Soldiers can use augmented reality headsets or wearable glasses to get mapping data, movement markers, and other data. This allows ground forces to make better situational decisions in real-time.
Big Data Analytics
Information and the capacity to generate insights from it are becoming increasingly important in the future of warfare. Militaries with the ability to retrieve the most critical data, evaluate it accurately and fast, and then transmit it promptly and securely will have a strategic advantage. To accomplish this, big data analytics extracts insights from a variety of data sources. Cryptanalysis and simulations for informed decision-making are two applications of quantum computing. Analytics also makes it possible to analyze data from the IoMT infrastructure more efficiently. Predictive analytics also helps prevent hazards and enhances the safety and efficiency of dangerous jobs.
Blockchain provides data security allowing important data to be shared with all parties involved. Consequently, defense entrepreneurs are developing blockchain-based solutions to protect sensitive military data and combat cyber threats. Device monitoring, expediting the procurement process, and supply chain security are some of the other uses of blockchain technology in the defense sector.
Sensor integration on autonomous vehicles is a driving force behind the platform's increased processing and networking capabilities. Hybrid technologies, such as using multiple system architectures and diverse co-processors that mix CPUs, GPUs, and FPGAs, are being considered by unmanned systems designers.
One of the hottest use cases for rugged computers today is payload mission processing, which can include sensor fusion, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other critical capabilities.
The payloads vary per platform, but they typically include processing equipment and sensors that combine data from many sources and exchange it across a network, effectively streamlining communication and big data analytics for the military.
Rugged Solutions Relevant to the Military
Some cutting edge rugged solutions for the defense industry include:
In recent times, the military has opted for ruggedized tablet computers over bulkier, more power-hungry servers and PCs.
Manufacturers like Getac ensure tablet computers are fully ruggedized to meet stringent military testing requirements, ensuring that the devices can resist harsh working conditions and keep performing when they are required the most. Customers can also define the types of connectors and form factors they desire for easier integration into their larger systems. Rugged tablets have applications in:
1. Battlefield Communication
Rugged tablets and small wearable PCs connected to satellite communications (SATCOM) are expediting in-theater communications and increasing situational awareness on the battlefield by sharing mapping data and visuals fed from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or command center.
Rugged tablets can provide commanders with an operational picture that includes the location of friendly and enemy troops and what assets are accessible to them. Indirect fire teams can carry tablets on them and use them to request artillery or airstrikes on enemy targets and formations.
In the near future, personnel will most likely operate autonomous systems such as ground or air vehicles using only a tablet. These automated robotic systems will be steered to a destination using a digital map and navigation system embedded in the tablet.
2. Equipment Testing
Rugged tablets are an excellent addition to test and measurement equipment needed to confirm that military capabilities are working as designed. Tablets with a fully configurable rear connector panel can be used with a variety of devices and applications. Most of these tablets have expansion slots for interfaces, including multiple-Ethernet, and Serial connections, allowing them to integrate directly into a variety of test systems without any need for additional accessories or peripherals.
The integrated nature of ruggedized tablets also enables them to be used as health and usage monitoring systems (HUMS) for military vehicles, aircraft, vessels, and data analysis tools. This is good news for personnel, as they will no longer be required to haul and deploy bulky computers to test equipment, as was previously the case.
Mobile Data Centers
High-performance computing has shifted from purpose-built, pricey large-chassis models to small-form-factor and ruggedized mobile data centers. These mobile data centers ship with rack-mount and air-cooled or conduction-cooled systems facilitating heavyweight operations like data mining, image recognition, search and rescue, and algorithm processing.
Their CPUs are also virtualized for use with attached equipment. Some mobile data centers come with more than 20 Ethernet ports and the ability to run at least that many virtual machines.
In the coming years, embedded defense suppliers may be interested in technologies and software that address the loss of communications and fault tolerance. This means that every intelligent and well-equipped defense player needs enough information in its platform to work autonomously but in coordination with other assets. This could mean distributed databases as well as sufficient storage at each node.
Some rugged solutions provide mirrored mobile data center servers that are entirely in sync and ready to take over if one of them fails.
Platform Analytics Tools
Rugged computers can be used as diagnostic processors for a given platform, acquiring and storing important data from a variety of air, land, and sea sources. Command and Control personnel gain an advantage in combat scenarios by swiftly and securely downloading, storing, analyzing, and converting this critical information into actionable information.
Tactical Communication Tools
Tactical communications are essential for keeping defensive and rescue forces connected securely. Rugged devices link ground forces with the command post. When coupled with a satellite tracking system, rugged gadgets allow forces to track and communicate with individual vehicles on the frontline.
Medical Logistics Support
Rugged mobile solutions are used by medical teams to get fast, accurate access to medical information and to send casualty resuscitation data. Automated technologies for patient and medical products tracking, blood management, medical reporting, and medical logistics assistance are also significant features of rugged mobile solutions.
Rugged solutions such as the MIL-STD-810H certified Getac mobile computers provide asset management, military vehicle maintenance, and tactical logistics support to ensure troops and support systems are always ready.
In complex military operations, mission planners must consider weaponry, food, gasoline, maneuvers, tactics, and a slew of other considerations. Rugged computer solutions automate mission planning through common components and software that can be shared throughout all platforms, including aircraft, smart munitions, and ground vehicles.
Still, regardless of how rugged the device is, in such hostile military environments, equipment is subjected to multiple hazards that can cause devices to break or fail. Sometimes devices are crushed by tanks.
Comprehensive rugged solutions providers offer a bumper-to-bumper warranty. This covers everything regarding the rugged solutions. Some providers such as Getac stand out among the competition as their coverage is more comprehensive and covers everything apart from malicious damage.