DARPA develops technologies for aiding disaster relief

Jun 27, 2012
This is the parafoil unmanned air-delivery system -- a low-cost, propeller-driven air vehicle that uses a parachute for lift and carries urgent supplies from the container ship to stricken areas on shore. DARPA's Tactically Expandable Maritime Platform (TEMP) program has completed the design of innovative technologies to transform commercial container ships into self-contained floating supply bases during disaster relief operations, without needing port infrastructure. Credit: DARPA

During natural or man-made disasters, the U.S. armed forces' rapidly deployable airlift, sealift, communication, and medical evacuation and care capabilities can supplement lead relief agencies in providing aid to victims. The Department of Defense's 2012 strategic guidance document includes humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations as one of the missions for 21st Century defense.

DARPA's Tactically Expandable Maritime Platform (TEMP) program has completed the design of to transform commercial container ships into self-contained floating supply bases during operations, without needing port infrastructure. The program envisions a container ship anchoring offshore of a disaster area, and the ship's crew delivering supplies ashore using DARPA-developed, modular on-board cranes and air- and sea-delivery vehicles.

"To allow military ships and aircraft to focus on unique military missions they alone can fulfill, it makes sense to develop technologies to leverage standard commercial container ships, used around the world daily, as a surge capacity for extended humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations," said Scott Littlefield, DARPA program manager.

DARPA recently completed the first phase of the program, which developed four key modular systems, all of which are transportable using standard 20-foot or 40-foot commercial . The elements include:

  • Core support modules—container-sized units that provide electrical power, berthing, water and other life-support requirements for an augmented crew aboard the container ship.
  • Motion-stabilized cranes—modular on-board cranes to allow transfer of cargo containers at sea from the ship deck over the side and onto a sea-delivery vehicle.
  • Sea-delivery vehicles—Captive Air Amphibious Transporters (CAAT) have air-filled pontoons on a tank tread-like design, enabling them to carry containers over water and directly onto shore.
  • Parafoil unmanned air-delivery system—a low-cost, propeller-driven air vehicle that uses a parachute for lift and carries urgent supplies from the to stricken areas on shore.
While DARPA's investment in demonstrating the technology has completed, the information obtained should reduce risk for efforts of the military Services or other government organizations with a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission.

Explore further: FAA, industry launch drone safety campaign

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Revolutionary crane technology may be in Navy's future

Jun 01, 2010

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) successfully completed multiphase testing of the Large Vessel Interface Lift On/Lift Off (LVI Lo/Lo) Crane technology demonstrator recently, marking a major milestone in at-sea, ship-to-ship ...

When your ship comes in

Mar 02, 2012

Every day, thousands of cargo containers from around the world pass through our nation's sea ports carrying items we need, and possibly some that are not so welcome: drugs, explosives, chemical, biological, ...

New satellite service for disaster teams

May 03, 2006

Global Relief Technologies, GeoEye and Telenor launched a joint venture to provide satellite imagery to disaster-relief teams in remote areas of the world.

New break up fears for stricken N. Z. ship

Nov 02, 2011

Officers from a ship stuck on a New Zealand reef faced fresh charges Wednesday as fears were raised the vessel was close to breaking up and could spill more oil, worsening the environmental disaster.

Recommended for you

FAA, industry launch drone safety campaign

4 hours ago

Alarmed by increasing encounters between small drones and manned aircraft, drone industry officials said Monday they are teaming up with the government and model aircraft hobbyists to launch a safety campaign.

Off-world manufacturing is a go with space printer

Dec 20, 2014

On Friday, the BBC reported on a NASA email exchange with a space station which involved astronauts on the International Space Station using their 3-D printer to make a wrench from instructions sent up in ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.