I, for one, welcome our new missile defense multiple kill vehicle hoverlords.

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37 Responses:

  1. httf says:

    I'm having a really demoralizing experience here. I'm trying to make a "oh that doomsday device is just like this other doomsday device in this cheesy pulp I read, link here" comment. But apparently the cheesy pulp in question was so bad that its stupid doomsday device is not explained anywhere on the internet. And I don't want to be the only google result on it.

    Bottom-line: that machine is cheesy pulp material. And I consider its actual effectiveness dubious. Specifically though, the hovering is kinda cool.

    • Agreed. I don't see any situation where you'd use it that a grenade, claymore or landmine wouldn't be more effective unless they're planning on making the firing a lot more discriminating.

      • jurph says:

        Um... a grenade, claymore, or landmine is designed to work here on earth, and blow up things that are going no faster than, say, 100mph.

        MKV is designed to deploy off the front end of a missile defense interceptor moving at ~5km/s, and deploy a handful of miniature kill vehicles that will seek out and collide with incoming ballistic missile reentry vehicles, and anything else that comes off the front of the missiles (also moving at ~5km/s, in more or less the opposite direction). The closing speeds involved are ridiculous, and the control systems are unbelievably precise. All of this happens well above the sensible atmosphere.

        The hover test is just a test of the reliability and precision of the control system.

        • Doh! Asleep at the keyboard for that one. Totally missed the "missile defense" part of the title.

        • strspn says:

          Too bad the people who want to attack us are using oil and opium instead of ICBMs.

          • lafinjack says:

            By the time we figure out how to effectively defend against the turrists, the 20 year lag time on these new technologies will have passed and we'll need to worry about something else entirely.

            • strspn says:

              Yeah, we need to go further than Gates' vision of a military that wastes money on fancy hardware we don't need and won't use. We need some kind of a ray gun that when you shoot it at military leaders, it makes them want to solve problems by talking things out instead of shooting and bombing.

              • lafinjack says:

                Now that's just crazy talk.

                • strspn says:

                  Ha! That's what they said at the academy! I will show them all when I mutate the tobacco mosaic virus to produce oxytocin chaw / kat / poppies!

                  (Just in case this message makes its way to the Caribbean headquarters of the Republican Party: No, Rush, oxytocin is not the same as Ocycontin, and you should ask your doctor to determine whether you have enough of it.)

      • hatter says:

        The only "firing" is of the hover, station-keeping and translation motors. It's not being actively aggressive there, just moving where it's told and staying there.

        the hatter

    • jurph says:

      It's not a doomsday device... if anything, it's an anti-doomsday-device device, which will only be used in the unlikely event that Kim Jong-Il (or similar) attempts to use his doomsday device. Then again, that makes it a device which will only be used on doomsday.

      Here's a link describing what it's supposed to do, and here's the PR video from MDA.

      • romulusnr says:

        if anything, it's an anti-doomsday-device device

        facepalm. Another "good weapon" to use in a "good war".

        • bdunbar says:

          They're neither good nor bad - just tools.

          I submit that a weapon used is to kill missiles with nuclear, biologic or chemical warheads is a pretty handy tool to have around.

          • strspn says:

            If it's an effective biological warhead, how do you know it wouldn't just spread it out to epidemic proportions?

            • bdunbar says:

              As opposed to letting it spread to epidemic proportions at it's intended target.

              Which would be so much better.

              Once, I too asked what-if questions. A very wise sergeant, growing exasperated, finally replied 'What if grasshoppers carried 45s?'

              We looked puzzled. We were young and foolish.

              'Then crows woudn't fuck with 'em.'

              A small bit of enlightenment fell upon the assembled Marines.

    • tjic says:

      So that the rest of us are less likely to have a "my eyeballs stepped in the stupid" moment, please consider not constructing comments of the form:

      1) I have no idea what I'm looking at.

      2) in my considered opinion, it's going to be ineffective.

  2. wfaulk says:

    Am I the only one who thinks this looks faked?

    There are a number of subtle things that feel wrong, but the big one for me is the speed at which it falls after the main motor disengages. Maybe the video was slightly overcranked?

    • tjic says:

      I do know what you're talking about, but I think that that actually speaks to its veracity.

      By that, I mean that there is something that strikes our monkey brains as "too precise" about lots of computer controlled stuff. If you've ever seen a robot arm do welding, or a CNC mill, etc., you'll be sort of blown away at the speed, precision, lack of wasted steps, and - in general - totally non-organic "feel" to how it goes about doing things.

      I've thought about this a bit, and I've got two theories: one, we monkeys are used to rotational movement as our limbs pivot around joints. Machines are sometimes designed this way, but even when they are, they can often use software to translate multiple rotations into smooth linear displacements (doing this with cams and gears was a big research area for proto mechEs in the 18th and 19th century, btw!). Two, we're used to things - even big things - bending and slopping around a bit. Trees sway. Animals bounce and jostle as they run.

      If someone animated a demo like that, they'd be tempted to smooth out the extreme regularness and cartesian structure of its movements into something a bit sloppier and "more realistic".

      Hence, the apparent lack of realism makes me think that it's real.

      My two cents.

      • wfaulk says:

        No, I can buy the precise movement. It's other things, like the lighting seeming different for the MKV than it is for the room, making it look composited, the seeming regularity and precision of the camera shake, the aforementioned less-than-1G fall, the netting's survival of the motor's exhaust, and the apparent lack of illumination from the motor exhausts.

        Other things lend it veracity, like the accuracy of the behind-net compositing, the net's reaction to the MKV's impact, the multiple angles, and the falling piece of debris at the end of the test.

        Other things are psychological. The fact that the room looks like something from a video game, for example, with the netting and the odd lights and the purple-brown smoke that dissipates instantly.

        It could be real. It just feels fake to me.

    • hairyears says:

      No, the drop looks about right to me: it's only falling a few feet, it's light, and it's not falling through still air.

      As a more general point, the 'faked look' is something we'll need to get used to with precision-controlled automatic systems. They really do move in ways that defy the expectations of our monkey brains. That is to say: our experience of the world has conditioned us to expect progressive acceleration and curved paths rather than instant stops and right-angle turns. This conditioning goes quite deep: the tracking reflexes for your eyes, for example, have real trouble with automated systems that move in ways that differ from objects in the natural world. Note that all these things - and anticipatory movement, a slight backward motion before moving forward - are routinely exaggerated in animated films, in order to make them look 'real'.

      My first encounter with this 'not real' reaction was working with a gantry crane with an 'anti-swing' mechanism - All experience tells you to expect the suspended load to swing like a pendulum as the gantry moves along, or at least to move a little bit (a really good crane operator varies the speed and prevents harmonic motion in the load); but instead of a swinging cable, you see an (apparently) rigid vertical bar connecting the load to the trolley - and the load comes to *dead* stop, which is very difficult to anticipate and, at some level, very difficult to believe because the brain anticipates that a suspended load will swing around and that any moving object will decelerate rather than just halt.

      So I would say that your monkey brain - and mine - expects a flying object to bob up and down a bit when hovering, and to show a bit of imprecision in its movements; and that a flying object that hovers and turns as if 'moving on rails' will be instinctively rejected as fake.

      This is easy to say when you're looking at a you video clip: but disconcerting and a little bit disorienting when you see it happening for real, and *feel* a part of your brain rejecting what it's seeing.

      • romulusnr says:

        our experience of the world has conditioned us to expect progressive acceleration and curved paths rather than instant stops and right-angle turns.

        It's disingenuous to suggest that either of those are technically possible. What really happens is that modern ultra-fast-clock computers and sensors can manipulate the fundamental physics so quickly and accurately that they *appear* to do these things, because they do them faster than we can detect.

        Slow such a system down (i.e. a video of it) sufficiently and you will see the same old progressive acceleration and curved paths us monkeys are used to, no? No doubt the MKV really does bob up and down, but in a way imperceptible to our human sensors and computers.

      • wfaulk says:

        No, the drop looks about right to me: it's only falling a few feet, it's light, and it's not falling through still air.

        Light? I'm too lazy to look up what kind of fuel it's using, but it doesn't appear to have an external fuel tank, and the amount of fuel that can hold that aloft for 20 seconds has got to weigh a lot. Not to mention that it's got at least nine rocket motors, which have to be able to handle what are bound to be very high temperatures. They can't be light, either.

        Also, the reports say that it was hovering at 23 feet. The netting was obviously off the ground to some extent, but it still must have fallen 15 feet or so. Also, that would seem to indicate that the MKV itself was a couple of feet in diameter, which casts more doubt on the notion of it being light.

        • the amount of fuel that can hold that aloft for 20 seconds has got to weigh a lot.

          But at the point when it starts to fall, that fuel is no longer aboard.

          • wfaulk says:

            Are you implying that weight has something to do with the amount of time that it would take for the object to fall?

            • Only to the extent that the grandfather post did. Density of an object falling in air does affect fall time; effective density of a doodad with unburned fuel aboard is greater than that of expended doodad.

    • mackys says:

      Am I the only one who thinks this looks faked?

      Nope, it looks odd to me too.

      I think part of it is the fact that it's filmed through netting, combined with the weird lighting due to being in an underground bunker. And what are those red and blue lights on the back wall? Makes it look like a video game set.

      Scale is also weird - the news stories say the footage shows it hovering between 20-25 feet high. About four person-heights. As others have said, you don't expect something that big to move as precisely as this thing does.

  3. justmealex says:

    It looks more "shock and awe" than it does "Skynet".

  4. I too initially thought this was intended to be a groundbased weapon... something like the next version of the Bouncing Betty, but that didn't seem likely for the cost.

    As for putting a dozen of these on warheads, I'm more interested to see how it would handle multiple vector stresses in a zero-g environment. All well and good to place a single lift section to counteract the Earth's gravity, but in zero-g each of those rounds going off the sides would create a spinning affect. Sure, you could counteract that with a similar firing on the opposite side of the device, but nothing is exact with explosives and there would be a tremendous amount of spin in my opinion.

    At any rate, interesting Star Wars defense idea.

    • gfish says:

      Those aren't rounds being fired, they're reaction jets for maneuvering. And if they were going to cause the device to spin it would happen just as much while balancing on a jet as it would when in freefall. If anything the effect would be much more dramatic, as any uncompensated tilt would cause the platform to launch into the side of the cage.

  5. mcity says:

    This robot would go on to fight Mega Man.

  6. I was wondering when you'd get around to posting about this...

    damn murderbots will be the end of us all.