There's no easy way to clear a path through a minefield. Options range from tracked vehicles pummeling the ground with whirling flails to individual soldiers gingerly poking the ground and then defusing mines one by one. The Defense Department, cognizant of the need for both speed and safety in beach landings and other operations, is looking at another alternative--masses of small darts raining down on suspect terrain.
iRobot pretty much has both ends of the robot spectrum covered: cute, household cleaning robots and industrial-strength military robots. Monday's announcement that iRobot and Boeing will team up on a military/civilian/commercial robot falls somewhere in the middle.
The Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle, nicknamed SUGV Early, will weigh less than 30 pounds. That's smaller than iRobot's line of robots currently in use in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts to search buildings, caves and tunnels and disarm Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
The SUGV Early will perform reconaissance and gather intelligence while operators stand out of harm's … Read more
The competition for robots in hostile situations has never been hotter, so manufacturers are understandably trying whatever they can to distinguish themselves. But rather than focus on more common attributes such as speed and power, Japan's Topy is opting for agility.
The company has introduced two new "crawler robots" designed to negotiate tight spaces, such as under floors, with a large LCD built into their controllers for close inspection. To get them down to more manageable fighting weights, Fareastgizmos says Topy lightened its crawler belts by 25 percent. But the larger model can still climb over gaps … Read more
We spend a lot of time on Crave fawning over adorable robots that clean our floors or serve us beer. But what about the real robots? The robots with nasty jobs. The kind of robots that make Asimo tremble like a bed-wetting toddler. Frankly, I'm relieved that robot engineers are taking a break from creating another boring domestic robot servant to make something useful like the life-saving Robokiyu. Sure, it looks like a human wood chipper, but the Robokiyu might actually pull you from a burning building. Let's see your Robosapiendo that! Then this week, Korean police got … Read more
If this looks like something that was made for military specifications, there's good reason--it was. But despite the macho appearance, it's not as exciting as an assault-rifle scope or anything. (Unless, that is, you get excited by flashlights, in which case we already have way too much information.)
The waterproof and shockproof "Tactical Blue-Dot" series from Bright-Strike Technologies--the proud manufacturer of "tactical illumination products"--was originally designed for law enforcement. And though it may not be a weapon per se, it can be used as a defensive device: "When set to high, these … Read more
The chip is connected to the brain with hair-thin electrodes implanted in key brain locations. Scientists then use a computer to order the bird to fly right or left and up or down.
The research is "military and intelligence" related, paralleling similar work by scientists with "Swiss Army homing pigeons" and sharks by the US Navy.
The Chinese scientists have … Read more
If there's one piece of computer equipment that is meant to survive extreme conditions, it's the USB drive. We've seen models that are shockproof, waterproof and weatherproof, so it's not surprising that the U.S. military would come up with one that's nuke-proof too.
R&D Electronics says its "IronDrive" has been "tested for high temperature, shock, vibration, caustic agents, submersion, EMI, and nuclear stresses," making it "the ideal USB drive for harsh military and commercial environments." As Everything USB notes, the chunky drive looks as if it … Read more
The island city-state of Singapore announced a contest to build a Terminator-style robot, able to operate in urban warfare environments independent of direct human control. That's right; no joystick.
Individuals, companies, universities and research institutes are invited to compete in what the country's Defense Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) calls the TechX Challenge. The autonomous robot DSTA has in mind would be an all-weather unit, able to negotiate stairs, use an elevator and generally move and shoot in a search-and-destroy mode without the aid of satellite navigation, just like a human soldier.
"Operation in urban areas represents … Read more
The company's Government and Industrial Robots Division has an entire line of "PackBots" designed for the battlefield: "Adaptable, tough and reliable, these robots go where people can't, shouldn't or don't want to. From the battlefield to deep inside Afghan caves, our robots are hard at work."
Lest you be too intimidated, be aware that these bots are directed by a controller that looks … Read more
From Basra to Kabul, no environmentally aware burkha babe is going to be able to resist this 4x4, turbo-charged, hybrid, diesel-electric recon hotrod.
Created by General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS,) the Shadow RST-V (Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Targeting Vehicle) boasts stealth, survivability and low mileage. That's big, considering that about half the military's money--and a third of its manpower--is devoted to hauling stuff around, 70 percent of that stuff being fuel.