Jul 192012

As in so many MacGyver-style systems, it all comes down to paragliding robots.

A new project to make dealing with humanitarian crises easier includes robot gliders that can deliver aid to crisis zones–and modules that can rapidly transform any private cargo container ship into a U.S. warship.

During future wars and civil disasters, the American military wants a way to quickly convert gigantic container ships into floating aid centers. Defense mega-contractor Raytheon’s new solution to the problem: A modular sea warehouse that can be built and deployed within 24 hours of a major emergency.

Raytheon today released preliminary designs for their Tactically Expandable Maritime Platform, or TEMP. TEMP is basically a improvised, MacGyver-style system for quickly transforming cargo container ships into massive sea infirmaries. As in so many MacGyver-style systems, it all comes down to paragliding robots.

Raytheon’s plan–made in conjunction with the military’s crazy tech wing DARPA–calls for heavy-duty unmanned robotic paragliders to deliver up to 3000 pounds of packages to shore and ship in order to avoid potentially dangerous helicopter or aircraft landings. The paraglider solution, called the ParaFoil Air Delivery System, was tested successfully in March. The unmanned, powered paragliders are designed to carry heavy pallets and can be assembled in “air bridges” of multiple vehicles, which then use a video system to determine a safe on-ship landing zone.

Once aid is on-ship, TEMP also uses modular cranes for delivery. TEMP’s cranes are designed for use in areas with limited port facilities. The cranes can be quickly built and dismantled, and then stored inside regular shipping containers. Raytheon also designed mobile command modules (also stored inside shipping containers) that can instantly connect to tracking systems while at sea.

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