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DreamHammer Wants To Corner the Drone OS Market 125

nonprofiteer writes "The Pentagon is increasingly transforming the military into an unmanned force, taking soldiers out of harm's way and replacing them with drones and robots. In 2011, it spent $6 billion on unmanned systems. The problem is that the unmanned systems don't work well together thanks to contractors building proprietary control systems (to lock government into exclusive relationships and to make extra money). A company called DreamHammer plans to have a solution to this — a universal remote control that could integrate all robots and drones into one control system. It would save money and allow anyone to build apps for drones. 'DreamHammer CTO Chris Diebner compares it with a smartphone OS — on which drones and features for those drones can be run like apps. Of course, Ballista is doing something on a much larger scale. It means that it takes fewer people to fly more drones and that new features can be rolled out without the need to develop and build a new version of a Predator, for example.'"
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DreamHammer Wants To Corner the Drone OS Market

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  • That's un-possible!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... they'll be able to hack all the rest.

    See! That is the kind of convenience that smart businesses know how to provide to their customers!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by autocannon ( 2494106 )

      Exactly. Making each unmanned system have its own interface and potentially communication protocols is another layer of security. This is the military, manpower cost is nil. Having an all powerful remote control system just screams single point of failure!

      • by fnj ( 64210 )

        This is the military, manpower cost is nil.

        What are you, trapped in World War II? Manpower cost is anything but "nil". It is probably about half, or even more, of all military spending.

        2011 US military spending, $ billion:

        Military personnel 162
        Veterans benefits and services 127
        Military construction[1] 20
        Family housing 3
        Operation and maintenance[1] 291

        All other military spending[2] 230

        TOTAL 833

        [1] Some large part of this is obviously connected with manpower.
        [2] Everything else includes procurement, r&d/t

        • You don't follow me. I'm not referring to the training costs. Nor the housing, nor the benefits. I'm referring to the costs of actually putting troops in place to do something. If you have a squad of 20 people who operate the drones, those 20 people are paid for the position, not the hours of work. Making all 20 run the drones for days on end costs the same as 1 who can operate all drones by himself.

          Now I know you're saying, "look there's cost savings in getting rid of those 19 guys". Except, this isn

    • securing technology with complexity doesn't work... that's what encryption is for.
  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @12:17PM (#40028967)

    The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea.
    They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall
    mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by
    small robots. And as you go forth today remember always your duty is
    clear: To build and maintain those robots. Thank you.
    -- Military school Commandant's graduation address, "The Secret War of
          Lisa Simpson"

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Nope, they will be fought at home when the the military industrial complex have removed all the troops with their pesky weaknesses like having a conscience when firing on fellow countrymen.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Why waste time on all this. Battle Mechs will not only utterly destroy the enemy but make then scream and run like children.

        All we would need is 3 MadKat Mark II's and 3 pilots and a single small support base.

        http://www.sarna.net/wiki/Mad_Cat_Mk_II [sarna.net]

        IF we could as a country make that technology work, Just one can take out a column of modern tanks all on it's own.

    • Also worth noting, Gundam Wing and Gundam 00 both made it plain how positively evil an unmanned army can be. Gundam Wing with the Mobile Dolls, unmanned mobile suits with one guy at the button, and Gundam 00 with the Automatons, little hyper-aggressive R2D2 like things, loaded up with guns, they seem to have two modes, exterminate, and off. They get dropped on civilian and military targets alike, one guy pushes a button, nobody feels anything when thousands die.

      People are fond of the phrase, here "1984 wa

    • by Phusion ( 58405 )

      Thank you sir, I know a great deal of slashdotters know the first 10 seasons of The Simpsons as well as I do, but so rarely do they regurgitate these wonderful quotes. That's a great episode.

  • by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @12:18PM (#40028977) Journal
    Oh sure, but what about my wants. Who's to say that my wants aren't going to corner the drone OS market instead?
  • Solve the problem (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Thursday May 17, 2012 @12:18PM (#40028989)
    Let's solve the problem of government being locked into exclusive relationships with other vendors by - locking them into an exclusive relationship with us! But our dog and pony show is more elaborate than theirs.
    • Let's solve the problem of government being locked into exclusive relationships with other vendors by - locking them into an exclusive relationship with us! But our dog and pony show is more elaborate than theirs.

      More like, Our show has dogs AND ponies! Plus you can reuse the old dogs and ponies from all the other shows you bought (with a minimal "rework" fee)... In the long run, you will save money with us, as we are pouring money into R&D to perfect the hybrid dog/pony that will be future proof!

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Ours is 'fully' automated, just define the general region and the drone will target groups of more than five and less than twenty and then do a return strike on rescuers. Immediately after that, it will automatically generate an excuse 'er' reason for the attack, scan a list names of the reported deceased and claim one of them as a terrorist leaders and the rest as terrorist. It will automatically create social links between the random targets in one location and the random targets in another location, thu

  • Dreamhammer's what wants to corner the drone OS market? Don't leave me hanging here...

  • by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @12:18PM (#40028997)

    Look, there is a reason that some Army guy has a different method of access to his unmanned recon tracked vehicle than an Air Force guy has to a Predator with Hellfire missiles, who has different methods of access than a weather drone pilot in the Navy. That separation creates very large walls that make it difficult to make mistakes.

    Should the Pentagon have requirements for how a User Interface should look and feel? Hell yes they should. There should not ever be a simplified method of access across platforms. It's extremely dangerous.

    On the other hand, I'm sure someone in the Pentagon has a friend or relative that needed cash so put out a bid on something like this despite the extremely obvious dangers.

    • a universal remote for war toys? what could possibly go wrong? it's not like anyone's abused a universal remote for something else. and these exclusive relationships we're locked into... what happens when the honeymoon's over? are we on a subscription? do they just hand the remote over to north korea if they pay more? do they have a backdoor override on everything?
    • Look, there is a reason that some Army guy has a different method of access to his unmanned recon tracked vehicle than an Air Force guy has to a Predator with Hellfire missiles, who has different methods of access than a weather drone pilot in the Navy. That separation creates very large walls that make it difficult to make mistakes.

      It makes it difficult for who to make mistakes? Of what kind? With what consequences?

      Should the Pentagon have requirements for how a User Interface should look and fee

      • by s.petry ( 762400 )

        A unified interface requires knowledge of all current, separate, and secured networks. When those walls come down, the same person controlling weather UAVs for the coast guard is using a device that can access a predator with 2 Hellfires flying over Packistan. Now, obviously there has to be a breach for the control to be gained. At the same time, currently there is no possibility of such a breach because of those walls.

        All forces have lost equipment. The impact of those losses has alway been minimized b

        • A unified interface requires knowledge of all current, separate, and secured networks.

          No it doesn't. All it needs is knowledge of the network(s) it's intended to operate on. You've confused "unified interface" with "universal access".

          When those walls come down, the same person controlling weather UAVs for the coast guard is using a device that can access a predator with 2 Hellfires flying over Packistan. Now, obviously there has to be a breach for the control to be gained. At the same time, curren

          • by s.petry ( 762400 )

            You're a couple of millenia behind on battlefield C&C technology - which is intended to issue commands and initiate actions by it's very nature. That's precisely why the designers of such systems have gone to such great lengths to prevent spoofing and other forms of interference.

            I believe you are confused. A "unified interface" would be fine as I initially stated. That does not require some new technology to connect all of the UMV systems. A Unified interface would simply require the sharing of an API and required conformance to said API.

            The trend to want to set up a C&C infrastructure infrastructure that can control all components of everything is new, and dangerous. As mentioned, currently the battlefield C&C can only see what the parts do. They can't take control

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hack one system, own all the drones.

  • A beowulf cluster of those!

    Sorry... just making the mandatory beowulf-comment. :-D
  • That the US military doesn't own the rights to the technology they are paying to have developed. If they did they could implement their own control systems, or take future development to another contractor.
    • Militaries should outright own the tools with which they fight. Renting stuff, like, say, hiring mercenaries to do your dirty work always comes back to bite you in the ass and we're smart enough to avoid mistakes like that.

      Oh, wait...

    • Re:Insane (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Scarred Intellect ( 1648867 ) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @12:43PM (#40029375) Homepage Journal

      I haven't laughed that hard in a long time!

      Do you realize the technical ineptitude in the military?

      Our Network guys didn't even know what a routing loop was, or how I could take down the network in this one relatively unguarded room (that happened to house the routers).

      We were lining up a satellite for our network access and it had to point x degrees; my lieutenant (college grad, because all officers are required to have Bachelor's degree in {INSERT RANDOM FIELD HERE}) requested I ask the guy if this azimuth had to be shot from the base, and if so if it was along the side or from the center.

      I was the only non-officer in my company that could keep a generator running; if it died, no one knew how to start it, despite the instructions being written fairly clearly.

      A sergeant fulled said generator with oil until it was full (full being to the top of the fill-tube). Then we had a geyser of oil coming out of the exhaust. A Marine was moving our front end loader and rounded a left hand corner that had a bank sloping down to the right...with the bucket up. Of course it tipped over.

      These are but a few examples I've seen. The Army's SOP (standard operating procedure) for the Raven B UAV system is to stall it at 100-150 feet (I think) and let it fall to the ground to land. We were taught that $1000 in damages for 5 flights was acceptable/expected. The Marine's SOP was to do the same but at 50-75 feet to minimize damage.

      I was a Marine. I'm proud of my service, but I'm not proud of the Marine Corps. It's full of a bunch of coddled stupid pussies. But the military should NOT be in charge of their own control systems for technical devices, not without a lot more technical education for those serving in the technical fields, which isn't going to happen with 4 years of service then treating everyone like shit so the majority leave.

      • Perhaps they shouldn't control/develop it themselves, but they should own it. Just like a man may own a ship but hire someone better qualified to act as captain or mechanic. As it stands now if the military decides they want feature X that their contractor doesn't want to add or, god forbid, discovers their contractor is selling back-door access, then they're SOL and have to start from scratch. If they owned the tech (i.e. have the source code and the right to have someone else develop it) then they can

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        I made a Army Comms Major shit himself when I showed him how easy it was to find a satelite in the sky.

        I grabbed my iphone, fired up dish pointer pro, lifted the phone and said, "Right there is USA-207. Isnt that the bird you guys use for Comms for the middle east?"

        He just stared at me mouth open and then asked where did I get that program. as it was far more advanced than anything the US military has.

      • I was a Marine.

        Do you mean you were a technician in the marines, or you were a marine, marine? Aren't armies supposed to have technical staff to do all the technical things?

        • I was an infantry machinegunner.

          That doesn't mean that I don't know anything. I've been building computers since before I was in high school. Taught myself C and C++. Went to Digipen Institute of Technology, worked for my school district as a network admin while still a student...that was all before the military.

          We did have technical staff (MOS code 06xx) to do such things, but every one I met knew less about computers and networks than I did. They guy that taught my UAV course knew less about flying th

    • by drerwk ( 695572 )
      It is a little more complicated. The services tend not to build from scratch each time they buy something, and they want to pay as little as possible. So they might buy a tank from Big D Contracting, and Big D say we have this motor that would work great in your tank, but we designed it on our dime, so we will build them for you and service them, but we own the design and maybe some patents on the motor it is so great. It is much cheaper to buy a tank with the Big D motor that than to pay for a new motor de
  • by hey ( 83763 ) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @12:20PM (#40029045) Journal

    The govt can just insist on a common standard. They have the power here.

    • They already do. It's called STANAG.
    • by neonv ( 803374 )

      I work in the drone industry and I'm involved in the communication systems they use. Hence, I know that the government has standards for interoperability of drones. Not only that, but NATO has standards for drones (e.g. STANAG 4586). There are companies that make ground stations for use with all military drones (DreamHammer is one of many), only possible because of the standards. The standards keep chaos at bay when dealing with the large numbers of drones. Contrary to popular belief on Slashdot, the m

      • STANAG 4586 only addresses UAVs, and caters to the fixed-wing variety. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) have adopted a standard architecture for command and control of robots known as AS-4, formerly Joint Architecture for Unmanned Systems JAUS. This standard protocol addresses the needs of a wide variety of robotic and autonomous systems including UGVs, UAVs, and UUVs.

        Learn more at: http://www.sae.org/servlets/works/committeeHome.do?comtID=TEAAS4 [sae.org]
    • by Bigby ( 659157 )

      They "can" and they "should", but when was the last time that happened?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yeah. Not going to happen. There are already protocols and standards (STANAG 4586 [cdlsystems.com], etc) that take care of this. Not to mention the billions already spent by the government on developing these standards. So this sounds like a solution to a nonexistent problem.

  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @12:25PM (#40029125)

    I thought Cyberdyne Systems was the leader in this area.

  • Thought we already had this...it's callled SkyNet

  • HammerTech? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Didn't Tony Stark warn us about the use of HammerTech in military applications?

  • we'll have plugins required for drones that will allow you more features. And drone app walled gardens that work very well and look nice, but don't allow you to use that drone for anything outside its intended purpose. And drones that search real well but want to serve you ads for maintaining the hardness of your drone's armor during missions.
  • One system to rule them, one hack to control them all!

  • You mean they don't all use MATLAB like this [slashdot.org] guy?
  • Welcome our new DreamHammer overlords with a private army of drones that were bought and paid for by the US Taxpayer.

  • Doesn't Nelson Paez look kinda evil in his picture? Not that that matters or anything but it certainly wouldn't make me feel his company should be trusted with this project.

    Baltar was weak and look what his system did.

    just random thoughts while coding the day away...

  • When different OSs power these drones it provides a form of security. If an enemy found a way corrupt or control a universal drone OS it could provide an enormous tactical advantage. It could either cause your drone forces to be non functional or at the very worst perhaps turn those forces against you.
  • And while our control links to our UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are encrypted, the video feeds are NOT. And we *know* that the bad guys are tapping into the video feeds when we have UAVs overhead. Which just goes to show that contractors can do some silly things.

    Not sure I like the idea of having ALL of our UAVs and various robots using a single OS. Because unless it's VERY secure, I can forsee a time when the bad guys hack the OS and our drones/UAVs/robots/etc are used by them against us...

  • So the Pentagon is intentionally considering a technical monoculture for the operating systems of military drones?

    Who is going to make the anti-virus software – Haliburton?

  • I think this has all of the makings of a waste of taxpayers dollars. They "might" be able to integrate all of the controls into one single point of failure. However, most of the sensors are proprietary government COTS solutions that are just slapped inside an airborne platform. The chances of this company being able to write code to work on all of the commercial closed source intelligence sensors are slim to none.
  • Too bad the name is already taken by a company making a drone control system that runs on iPhones and iPads!

  • Only one target OS. Is it fair to say that the US android arsenal is "fragmented"?
  • "DreamHammer, crushing your hopes and fantasies since 2003."
  • A botnet of these things is not a pleasent thought at all. There are good reasons a lot of critical military hardware runs on sysems specced out with redundant hardware running different CPUs and OSes.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @03:59PM (#40032475) Homepage

    Check out the DreamHammer site. [dreamhammer.com] It's all buzzwords and clip art. "DreamHammer is comprised of the most brilliant minds in the world." Yeah, right. There's absolutely no detail on what this is, or how it works, or what it interfaces to. Does it talk to ROS,or JAUS, or any of the other autonomous vehicle packages. They don't say.

    The addresses don't check out, either. The one in Santa Monica (nice location, three blocks from the beach) appears to be a law firm. The address in Virginia [dreamhammer.com] is something called "International Research and Development Solutions, LLC" [internatio...opment.com]. The location in Hawaii (nice location, three blocks from the cruise ship docks) is in an office building mostly full of lawyers.

  • Let me get this right:
    Because they had lots of outside contractors working on the control systems they have lots of disparate control systems, and they are going to solve this by getting an outside contractor to write a new control system?

    Does anyone else see the inherent flaw in this plan?

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