News | Aug 3, 2018

Weekly tech roundup: hyper-spectral 3-D vision for autonomous vehicles, toxic agent neutralizer (and more)

TechLink’s mission is to help small businesses and entrepreneurs across America gain access to technology invented in Department of Defense labs that they can develop into new products and services.

In the last week, we added five new inventions to our database that your business could license and use to stay at the forefront of your industry. See technology you’re interested in? Contact us. Our expert technology managers can answer any questions you have about the licensing process.

Here is the roundup:

Hyperspectral 3-D vision for autonomous vehicles, unmanned systems

The Air Force has invented a 3-D, stereoscopic vision system that fuses visible, infrared and multispectral images from multiple cameras for maneuvering unmanned or autonomous vehicles.

While 3-D displays are rapidly becoming a popular entertainment medium, their use in real-world settings is not so well defined. Incorporating 3-D technology into the operation of drones may be one of the early applications outside of gaming. A benefit of using a 3-D display with autonomous or remotely piloted vehicles is to allow operators of those vehicles to aggressively maneuver in a complex or dynamic environment. This may also be beneficial in piloted vehicles, providing those operators with additional visual information related to the environment through which the driver and vehicle are traversing.

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Toxic agent neutralizer

The potential threat of an intentional release of chemical nerve agents along with thousands of fatalities in developing countries every year caused by pesticide exposure has made treatments for these types of poisonings a persistent focus for therapeutic intervention.

Current treatments for nerve agent poisoning involve a combination of atropine (a muscarinic antagonist), pralidoxime (also known as 2-PAM, a reactivator of poisoned acetylcholinesterase enzymes), and benzodiazepines to control seizures. Another method of treating organophosphate poisoning has recently emerged through the potential use of catalytic enzymes to detoxify these poisons in the blood. In detail, this approach offers the particular advantage of hydrolyzing organophosphates before they enter the tissue where they bind acetylcholinesterase in the neuromuscular junctions.

Therefore, such enzymes can at a minimum work in a complementary manner to, and in concert with, current treatments to improve survival rates. Army researchers have genetically engineered a more effective broad spectrum enzymatic antidote to toxic chemicals based on organophosphorus compounds.

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The blood–brain barrier is a highly selective semipermeable membrane barrier that separates the circulating blood from the brain and extracellular fluid in the central nervous system.

(iStock photo)

Improved blood-brain barrier model

While in vivo models are the gold standard for addressing blood-brain barrier (BBB) functionality and drug safety, they suffer from the lack of human complementarity, with an estimated 80 percent of candidate drugs successfully tested in small animals failing in human clinical trials. While such failures are not solely attributable to a lack of adequate BBB models, there is a large need for more relevant models.

Navy research chemists have constructed synthetic human blood vessels using human brain-derived endothelial cells and incorporated these into a tissue model that contains astrocytes and other neurons and microglia. Multi-cell type microvessels, in this case, synthetic Human Endothelial Microvessels (HEMVs), which incorporate cells such as astrocytes and pericytes yield a highly representative BBB in vitro model with a functional lumen containing brain-derived microvascular endothelial cells and a polymer wall containing human astrocytes and pericytes.

Applications for these microvessels include BBB permeability studies, drug delivery research, and brain-targeted diseases resulting from viral or bacterial infection.

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Remote geolocation without magnetic North

Positioning systems based on a non-magnetic north (or south) seeking are limited by a variety of constraints including size, weight, and power.

Navy scientists have created a portable device that can determine the desired orientation of a sensor at the desired point with respect to the Earth (true North) based on a determination of the orientation of a reference axis of a sensor with respect to locations of multiple points (and relationships between the multiple points).

The device uses non-magnetic directional sensing, orientation sensing, determinations via global positioning satellites, and a sequence of measurements along a path to align a virtual 3-axis inertial navigation unit (INU). The device is placed in a case and aligned with a laser rangefinder used to determine the range to the desired target location.

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Surface decontamination compounds

Chemical spills and the accidental release to toxic gasses are all too common around the world. Vapors settle on machinery, clothes, and every other exposed surface in the vapor plume area and can result in paralysis and death in a short time.

Since 2000 the Army has used a decontamination solution called DS2. Although this decontamination solution is effective, DS2 is quite toxic, flammable, highly corrosive, and releases toxic by-products into the environment. In addition, manufacture of DS2 exposes personnel to undue risks due to the toxic nature of the ingredients.

In an effort to provide improved detoxification of surfaces in the field, Army scientists have developed a decontamination compound and method using a porous metal hydroxide. These substances are insoluble in water and possess sufficient porosity to absorb and decompose a wide array of toxic chemicals. 15 example compounds are detailed in the patent although many more are covered.

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Headshot Image of Austin Leach, PhD, CLP

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