UGV Robot Warfare
PackBot and Ember offer life-saving support on the battlefield...
The consumer/military robot manufacturer iRobot has spawned the little brother of its already famous Packbot, proving once again that remote controlled unmanned vehicles are the future of battlefield support.
The new bot, known as Ember, weighs less than 1 pound and is small enough to fit in your pocket. It runs on reversible treads and has two flippers at one end to help it get over obstacles and correct itself.
Ember sees via a tiny camera mounted on one side which relays information back to base using its mounted antenna.
The idea is that, instead of carrying around the bigger heavier Packbot that needs its own support team, each soldier could carry an Ember in his cargo pocket.
When the unit wants to check out a suspicious building without the risk of coming under fire, it would send in a swarm of Embers, then monitor the live feeds from the cameras. Developed under Darpa’s LANDroids program iRobot has already shown nine of the bots networked together.
“Ultimately, the goal is make the little robots so easy to use and so cheap that they’re considered disposable…
“And that could change the way soldiers wage urban war.”
– Wrote Wired’s Danger Room blog.
The PackBot is an extreme versatile unmanned ground vehicle. Designed for a number of uses including Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), HAZMAT, search-and-surveillance, hostage rescue and other vital law enforcement tasks for Hazmat, Bomb Squads, SWAT teams, military units and other authorities, PackBot has a range of equipment to suit several mission objectives.
Weighing between 25-53 pounds depending on what equipment is carried, PackBot can operate under water and travel on land at speeds of up to 14 km per hour.
“PackBot easily climbs stairs, rolls over rubble and navigates narrow, twisting passages. The robot’s patented mobility platform features dual QuickFlip™ track articulations. These “flippers” are capable of continuous 360-degree rotation and enable PackBot to traverse rocks, mud, snow, gravel and other tough terrain. PackBot’s flexible ToughTrac™ polymer tracks eject debris and move the robot over all surfaces with sure-footed efficiency. PackBot even climbs grades up to 60 degrees. PackBot 510 is 30 percent faster, capable of traveling at speeds of up to 5.8 miles per hour (9.3 km/h).”
First used by US ground troops in Afghanistan during 2002 to help clear caves and bunkers, search buildings and cross live anti-personnel minefields, there are now well over 2000 PackBots currently stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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