Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hanes Excelsior Percussion Cap Grenade

Here is one from the bad idea bin. The Hanes Excelsior Percussion Cap Grenade. It was patented in 1862 by an W. W. Hanes for use in the American Civil War. It is a cast iron orb filled with gunpowder like the classic "Rocky and Bulwinkle" bomb. However instead of the classic open burning fuze, it is instead liberally covered with 10 nipples for percussion caps, which are small pressure sensitive explosives used to ignite a larger charge. It only took the detonation of one cap to set off the grenade, so if it were dropped or handled roughly it would certainly blow up inadvertently. And percussion caps are not always easy to use in the best of situations. To imagine Civil War soldiers in a trench, scared, hungry and being shot at using this thing without blowing themselves up is a stretch of the imagination. There is no record of their use in battle, so we can hope that no one was killed with this thing, either or purpose or on accident. Very few exist today.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Military Technology - PETMAN

Ohmylord its the Terminator. OK, no it is not. No, not IG-88 either. This is PETMAN from Boston Dynamics, the group that developed BIGDOG- the unmanned, cargo-carrying, four legged robot. It was not developed to infiltrate and destroy the remaining pockets of human resistance to the machines, but rather to test military protective clothing like the suits designed to protect the wearer from Nuclear, Chemical or Biological threats. PETMAN was designed to improve on earlier testing by making a robot that moves like a real person. It is six feet tall and weighs 180 pounds, like the average of soldiers. It also simulates heavy breathing and sweat when it is given long workouts (also like the Terminator, hmmm) Currently it still walks on a tether, but it will almost certainly be freed from that constraint soon. To help make it really creepy, it also glows from the chest and has no head, although plans are in place to add one, as seen below.
PETMAN is scheduled to be delivered to the Army some time next year.