#1394: SoilShield

Today’s invention is a way to provide even softskinned military vehicles with added protection from eg roadside bombs.

Each vehicle would carry several lightweight cages, one for each face. These would be attached to the vehicle via strong frames which would allow the cages to be angled downwards so they each act like the bucket of a bulldozer and are easily filled with earth/rocks by driving the vehicle for a short distance.

Once the vehicle has been driven fast or airlifted to a position of conflict, the cages would be filled rapidly, providing it effectively with several blastwalls behind which its crew could shelter.

On reaching a safer area, or when before making a quick getaway, the cages could be opened and their contents jettisoned in seconds.

#1382: Supermarine

Today’s invention is an alternative to the usual submarine’s conning tower -an underwater crow’s nest.

To reduce drag and provide a higher observation platform, a minisub is located on a pair of streamlined arms as shown. The minisub has an airlock connection to the rear of the hull so that crew can enter and leave freely when in transit.

The minisub could detach from the hull, using the arms, and rise close to or high above the surface.

It might even be possible to have this vehicle detach completely and act as a lifeboat in an emergency.

#1369: Jettisonion

Military robots are a) very scary and b) absurdly complex.

Bomb disposal robots can however save lives but their cost and technical sophistication makes it increasingly unattractive to leave damaged machines in the hands of an enemy force.

Today’s invention is a bomb disposal robot containing a UAV that ejects itself and flies home if the armoured, but technically rudimentary, outer vehicle is disabled.

The UAV ‘brain’ contains all the costly, classified control technology etc and thus avoids this being destroyed or captured.

This approach limits the need to apply huge amounts of armour, since the sensor unit can continuously assess the likelihood of forthcoming terminal damage to the outer vehicle.

#1361: WarmWiper

There has been a fair amount of hype about touchscreen smudge attacks (ie potential attacks). I’m pretty sure this has been made up by a journalist but in any case the problem is easily fixed by routinely changing the spatial order of the symbols to be touched.

A more serious problem occurs with existing, fixed key pads in very high security applications.

If eg a bank employee is under surveillance, by criminals using a super-sensitive thermal camera, his or her entry sequence will leave traces on the pad, with the residual temperature pattern varying according to the order in which these have been pressed.

Today’s invention is to supply each such installed pad with an automatically-activated hot air gun which can instantly eliminate any such thermal distribution.

#1330: ChopperSwopper

The twin-rotor Chinook helicopter is a remarkable design. If anyone suggested having two sets of counter-rotating interleaved rotor blades they might well be criticised for optimism bordering on naivete…my speciality, in fact.

Today’s invention is a Chinook upgrade in which each rotor blade engages its outer end with the distal rotor hub, driving that hub’s rotors around until it slows enough so that that end then becomes the inner end of the blade rotating about the distal hub.

This stresses each blade more evenly and lessens the overall sweep of the blades as shown in the diagram -in which the helicopter is flying up the page. The single blade shown swaps from hub to hub, providing drive for one rotor from the other without any need for a drive shaft (difficult, but not impossible to achieve).

#1323: Sublimatic

Conventional bullets are designed to be weighty, so that they can be aimed successfully over long distances without deflection (and also so that they will inflict great damage on impact).

Today’s invention is non-lethal, long distance round…a bullet which is heavy enough to accurately carry far but on reaching its target, its mass has decreased so that it delivers only a warning sting.

Bullets would be stored in an insulated magazine and made of dry ice. Solid carbon dioxide sublimes to vapour at a fixed rate (which is increased by friction with the air) so that the impact will decrease sharply with increasing range -and in a predictable way.

#1313: StockStick

Today’s invention is an emergency crutch for wounded soldiers, based on their existing rifle.

In the event of a legwound, a soldier could detach the barrel of his rifle from the breech mechanism and allow it to slide out of the stock until it could be secured in place, as shown, using a thumbwheel.

Removal of part of the shoulder stock would then form a crutch and allow the individual to move away from the conflict more rapidly to a place of comparative safety.

#1298: TrackBackup

Whenever a tracked vehicle has its tracks damaged, the crew are left vulnerable.

Today’s invention is therefore to equip such a vehicle with some road wheels which, when a track breaks, are capable of running directly on the ground.

These would each have independent motors, for maximal survivability.

The speed of movement might be very slow and uncertain on soft ground but in many circumstances this would be sufficient to escape, since each of the motors could be driven in such a way as to provide for rudimentary steering.

#1288: N-shooter

Again, the boyish obsession with firearms, I’m afraid…

Today’s invention is a cylinder for a revolver with a massively increased capacity.

This would be fitted to any revolver of the right calibre by ‘breaking’ the weapon as usual and replacing the existing cylinder with the one shown in the diagram.

This would be driven from chamber to chamber using the cocking mechanism and a ratchet formed on the inside surface of the new supersized cylinder (exactly the same type of drive as is used on conventional revolvers).

#1283: Camouflag

Military vehicles often need to carry various electronic self-identification technologies on board to ensure that they are not accidentally attacked by their own side’s missiles.

Today’s invention is a simpler, less costly version of this approach, applicable to every vehicle, in which a 2-D barcode (eg QR code) is carried on a pull-out, printed panel (as flags are traditionally used).

This ensures that optically guided missiles will not engage with friendly vehicles marked in this way and it also allows the code to be almost indistinguishable (to human eyes) from the background camouflage pattern applied to the vehicle in question.

This makes it hard for enemy spies to copy the code and use it to protect their own tanks (especially since a new code panel could be printed out daily).