http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=technologyNews&storyID=2006184 [Hacker in a box?!? I'm game if it does cool commericals too. :) - WK] By Greg McCune January 7, 2003 DETROIT (Reuters) - It looks like a contraption that should be entered in a monster truck rally -- menacing black with reinforced silver bumpers, big tires and floodlights mounted on top of the cab. But it can track down and zap the enemy in so many ways. At the Detroit auto show, the U.S. Army on Tuesday unveiled a hulky, prototype "SmarTruck II" -- designed since the September 11, 2001 attacks with President Bush's War on Terrorism definitely in mind. It will not be rumbling through the desert toward Baghdad any time soon, but the military is trying to create an all-purpose vehicle that could make a statement if it suddenly appeared over the sand dune. "Once this vehicle comes on the scene, we want everyone to know that we mean business," Germaine Fuller, the director of the project that created it, told Reuters at a news conference featuring a marching color guard and a military band playing patriotic songs such as "God Bless America." Last year at the Detroit show, the U.S. Army showcased its first attempt at a high-tech truck, which the military brass now acknowledges was eye-catching with a pop-up pepper spray dispenser and surveillance cameras, but hardly ready for the real world. "It was more a James Bond vehicle, more 'gee whiz' but not designed for a specific mission," Army General N. Ross Thompson III, chief of the command that designed the truck, told Reuters. PRESTO CHANGE-O SmarTruckII is equipped with all the latest hi-tech bells and whistles too. This time, however, the designers have tried to create a military vehicle that can be changed in an hour or so to fight a new enemy with new weapons in a post-Sept. 11 world. Built on the modified platform of a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck with a 350 horsepower, V-8 engine, the watchword of the SmarTruckII is flexibility. Designers created what they call "nodules," based on a stainless steel box that sits on what would normally be the bed of the truck. The boxes are swapped on and off the truck depending on the mission. The idea is for the vehicle to be useful in conventional combat, or be transformed quickly to detect chemical and biological weapons, or even help in recovery from a disaster. Fuller said the boxes can be changed in about an hour, depending on the situation. For example, out of the top of one of boxes on the prototype vehicle popped SPIKE, which the military described as a "fire and forget" small missile and launcher system that can fire two missiles simultaneously. Others boxes housed equipment useful in communications or surveillance. BIG BROTHER HOVERING In another twist, the vehicle can house an unmanned drone-like small aircraft that can hover over a nearby area and send live video back to the vehicle. In the cab of the truck are housed a 3-D mapping system and a communications system that Fuller described as "hacker in a box." It includes a computer program linked with surveillance equipment to monitor what people in the area around the vehicle are saying in e-mail. SmarTruckII could just sit and listen, send bogus e-mails to confuse an enemy, or, if it is not amused, kill the enemy communications system altogether. The prototype vehicle cost between $500,000 and $1 million, Fuller said, although she said it is tough to estimate precisely because it involved partnerships with several firms. The military said it has no plans to produce the truck any time soon, although Bran Ferren, a designer of SmarTruckII, said that if an order came through it could be put in production in a year. - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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