UNDATED (CNN) -- High-tech is making its way to the battlefield. Here is the latest futuristic equipment being dreamed up by the military.
The military already has its fair share of heroes but now it's also getting Batman. No, not that Batman, this B.A.T.M.A.N., aka battlefield air targeting man-aided knowledge, developed at wright patterson air force base in ohio. Military scientist 1st Lt. Noel Trew says, "In 2001, in the early stages of the Afghan war we had some guys call in an air strike on their own position and that could have been avoided if some of the interfaces between different pieces of the kit had been more intuitive. And so within the labs and other parts of the Air Force we set up a program to try and make sure something like that would never happen again."
This was the Air Force's first prototype, a laptop-sized computer that allowed users to see GPS data such as their location and where a target is. There were some problems, though. Trew says, ""If you're crouching behind a rock or trying to evade the enemy having this in a bulky form factor isn't the best thing - you don't want to try and stuff it in your rucksack while you're running away."
The Air Force partnered with general dynamics to shrink the computer down to something that could fit on a chest mount but then they took it a step further. USAF program analyst Mike Sedillo says, "If he's riding a motorcycle or all terrain vehicle he may want to operate using his head mounted display. allows him to keep his eyes up on the battlefield, maintain higher levels of situational awareness. We're looking to always get lighter and smaller. So with the advent of the android systems that are coming on line, one of the things that our team has developed is a mount platform for that."
Another challenge that airmen, much like civilians, face is all electronics have batteries, and batteries die. Sedillo says, "Whether they're on top of a roof they can throw this device up and over a power line and actually draw power down from a power line to recharge their kit, some training required. They can actually open up the hood of a car and harvest power off of somebody's car battery that's on the side of the road. We can harvest power from the cigarette lighter. We can also harness power from a photovoltaic - a solar panel."
While features like the wearable computer and eye piece are already being used in the field, not every feature is ready for deployment yet. The program is developing other concepts as well - including a glove with multiple accelerometers that can control the computer. Sedillo says, "Imagine trying to control information on my computer I don't have to take my hand off my gun I can simply move my hand, double click, and I might be calling in a strike just by simple movements of my hand."
Yet behind the futuristic technology, the goal ultimately is to save lives. Trew says, "Eventually where we would like to get with this is we would like to bring in helmet mounted displays that you can actually see through and have sort of augmented reality through the battlespace where you can see icons appearing above different parts of the battlefield depending on where friendly forces are, where items are that you've targeted and it can help to reduce collateral damage and reduce any incidents of fratricide in the future."